Introduction to this edition, by Graham Holderness
Introducing a re-issue of Raymond Williams’ Drama in Performance, first published in 1954 and revised in 1968, involves at the outset two major shifts of orientation. First, Williams is customarily associated with studies in ‘literature,’ and (correctly) attributed with a leading role in that revolutionary transformation of literary studies which has accommodated British intellectual traditions to the more philosophical environment of European cultural theory. Our habitual impression of this ‘long revolution’ would trace a path from Cambridge English, through the sociology of literature (in books such as Culture and Society), to a far broader concern with social ‘communications,’ which in turn produced a comprehensive and systematic concept of ‘culture’, enabling direct and theoretically-informed address to media such as print, television and film. Yet Williams began his academic career with a thesis on Ibsen, included some striking theoretical observations about drama in a book published as early as 1950, and had by 1954 produced three books on drama and film. There is obviously therefore a distinct continuity in Williams’ work, a continual concern with the theoretical analysis of drama in performance.