A rebellious past: history, theatre and the England riots

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Alain Badiou has argued that the England riots of 2011, in dialogue with societal upheavals around the world that same year, demonstrated fundamental crises in our governing social, economic and political discourses. Whilst institutional responses to the riots treated them as an aberration, Badiou believes them to be symptomatic of a broader rebirth of ‘history’ – the coalescing of past and present events into a congruent trajectory with powerful implications for the future. Using Badiou’s argument as a starting point, this article considers two theatrical responses to the riots – Nicholas Kent’s premiere of Gillian Slovo’s The Riots at the Tricycle, and Sean Holmes’ revival of Edward Bond’s Saved at the Lyric Hammersmith. By looking at the ways in which the productions sought to historicise the riots, I unpick both their interpretations of these events, and the contributions they were able to make to the urgent and ongoing discussions that the riots have generated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-21
Number of pages15
JournalStudies in Theatre and Performance
Issue number1
Early online date3 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • England riots
  • Edward Bond
  • Gillian Slovo
  • Alain Badiou
  • Verbatim Theatre
  • History


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