By the same authors

Staying Dead: The Corpse, Burial and Exhumation in Three Contemporary British History Plays

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter



Publication details

Title of host publicationDeath, Culture and Leisure
DateSubmitted - 2019
DateAccepted/In press - 2020
DatePublished (current) - 2020
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Ltd.
EditorsMatt Coward-Gibbs
Original languageEnglish

Publication series

NameEmerald Studies in Death and Culture


This chapter examines the acts of burial and exhumation in three contemporary British history plays. For my purposes, a ‘history play’ may be defined as a piece of writing for the theatre that engages with historical events and settings. Such plays inevitably, at the moment of their staging or revival, take on particular meanings for audiences, since theatre as a live, durational art from encourages spectators to compare the historical events depicted with their present historical moment. The chapter will argue that acts of burial and exhumation in contemporary British theatre are intimately tied to notions of land, soil and belonging. These have become increasingly pertinent ideas in the UK’s political climate following the 2016 Referendum on membership of the European Union. Of my three case studies, one dates from more than a decade before this vote, and two were written and staged in the interim between the Referendum result and the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Victoria by David Greig (2000), Common by DC Moore (2017), and Eyam by Matt Hartley (2018) all feature corpses on stage as a means to consider time, temporality, place, and history. Each play offers a different interpretation of what it means to play dead and to stay dead.

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