Title

Banish All The World: The Contrarianism of John Osborne

Presenter Information

Joshua Kelly

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC 135

Start Date

21-5-2015

End Date

21-5-2015

Keywords

John Stuart Mill, John Osborne, Contrarianism

Abstract

In this paper, I will explore the theme of intersections of performance and philosophy by explaining the use of contrarianism in the work and life of John Osborne and show how it was essential in the success of his drama. In order to best exemplify this, I will be theoretically engaging British philosopher John Stuart Mill and his work “On Liberty,” to talk about necessity of attacking what he called the deep slumber of a decided opinion on principle--or contrarianism for its own sake. Through the use of this methodology, we will see how (whether or not Osborne was aware of it) his continuous position of being anti- some ideas but rarely pro- others was a key component of his ability to write characters such as Jimmy Porter. By engaging “On Liberty”, we can deduce that contrarianism helped Osborne produce art that brought much needed life to a conventional 1956 English theatre. It is by this assumption that the questioning of the status quo is just as artistically beneficial as the presentation of original thought that Osborne makes his mark in dramatic history, and what becomes a fulcrum in the messages of Look Back in Anger, The Entertainer, and many of his published essays including "A Letter To My Fellow Countrymen."

Faculty Mentor(s)

Jay Ball

Department/Program

Theatre

Additional Mentoring Department

Theatre

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May 21st, 3:20 PM May 21st, 3:40 PM

Banish All The World: The Contrarianism of John Osborne

SURC 135

In this paper, I will explore the theme of intersections of performance and philosophy by explaining the use of contrarianism in the work and life of John Osborne and show how it was essential in the success of his drama. In order to best exemplify this, I will be theoretically engaging British philosopher John Stuart Mill and his work “On Liberty,” to talk about necessity of attacking what he called the deep slumber of a decided opinion on principle--or contrarianism for its own sake. Through the use of this methodology, we will see how (whether or not Osborne was aware of it) his continuous position of being anti- some ideas but rarely pro- others was a key component of his ability to write characters such as Jimmy Porter. By engaging “On Liberty”, we can deduce that contrarianism helped Osborne produce art that brought much needed life to a conventional 1956 English theatre. It is by this assumption that the questioning of the status quo is just as artistically beneficial as the presentation of original thought that Osborne makes his mark in dramatic history, and what becomes a fulcrum in the messages of Look Back in Anger, The Entertainer, and many of his published essays including "A Letter To My Fellow Countrymen."