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Let’s say “modern” is after Shaw, Robertson, Jones, although one might start with Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward. The outstanding playwrights of contemporary modern drama, the late 20th century, are Harold Pinter (The Birthday Party, The Caretaker, The Homecoming), Caryl Churchill (Top Girls, Soft Cops, Serious Money), Tom Stoppard (Arcadia, Rosenkrantz and Guilderstern Are Dead, Travesties), John Arden (Sergeant Musgrave’s Dance, The Workhouse Donkey, Live Like Pigs), and John Osborne (Look Back in Anger, Epitaph for George Dillon, Dejavu). This was a time of active theatrical innovation and social reflection, and a new interest in the British social upheavals after World War II; from these selections, one can choose absurdist plays, plays of social commentary, and philosophical statements. If “British” includes Irish, of course, one starts with John Millington Synge.
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