4 December 2022 / Books
From Blood Brothers to Cinderella
STR member Grace Barnes has just published a new book about the British musical:
National Identity and the British Musical: From Blood Brothers to Cinderella examines the myths associated with national identity which are reproduced by the British musical and asks why the genre continues to uphold, instead of challenging, outdated ideals. All too often, UK musicals reinforce national identity clichés and caricatures, conflate ‘England’ with ‘Britain’ and depict a mono-cultural nation viewed through a nostalgic lens.
Through case studies and analysis of British musicals such as Blood Brothers, Six, Half a Sixpence and Billy Elliot, this book examines the place of the British musical within a text-based theatrical heritage and asks what, or whose, Britain is being represented by home grown musicals. The sheer number of people engaging with shows bestows enormous power upon the genre and yet critics display a reluctance to analyse the cultural meanings produced by new work, or to hold work to account for production teams and narratives which continue to shun diversity and inclusive practices.
The question this book poses is: what kind of industry do we want to see in Britain in the next ten years? And what kind of show do we want representing the nation in the future?