This is England 2021: Staging England and Englishness in Contemporary Drama

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This article explores the ways in which contemporary theatre is engaging with English national questions. In the context of the current devolutionary movements in Britain, I apply a national specificity, focusing on plays and performances which address the politics of just one of the three nations within Britain: England. While this study of the specifics of England and Englishness is already well-established in literary studies (Gardiner) and political science (Kenny; Nairn), there is yet to be a sustained critical engagement with England in theatre studies. Following a discussion of Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem (2009) in light of its planned West End revival in 2022, I then turn to two recent theatrical representations of England in Mike Bartlett's Albion (2017 and 2020) and the Young Vic's My England shorts (2019), which I propose offer more rigorous, reflexive explorations into English national identity. As questions over England's cultural and political representation become increasingly loaded and difficult to navigate, I suggest that the beginnings of this English national register in the theatre marks an attempt to nuance these debates, opening a productive space for critical inquiry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-303
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Contemporary Drama in English
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2021


  • Albion
  • England
  • Englishness
  • Jerusalem
  • Jez Butterworth
  • Mike Bartlett
  • My England
  • Young Vic
  • anti-colonial perspectives
  • devolution
  • nation
  • nationalism


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