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Public issues, private tensions: envisaging European ethos in David Edgar's Pentecost
Eman El-Attar (Dept. of English, College of basic Education, PAAET, Kuwait) [BIO]
It is noteworthy that British theatre, best known for its national identity and local colour since the time of Shakespeare and onward, started both to show a keen response and to present a form of resistance to the tide of globalization, and to pay poignant attention to continental issues and concerns in the last quarter century. The outcome is a new tenor of drama that could be labelled more as European than English or British. The drama of David Edgar, whose plays changed direction from deploring the state of England in plays like Destiny (1976) and Maydays (1988), into exploring the state of Europe in such plays as The Shape of The Table (1990) and Pentecost (1995), best represents the new trend.
His profound Pentecost debates the obvious discrepancy in the common conviction that “all (could)be good Europeans,” – as stated by one of the characters in the play – who ever inhabit an economically and politically unified and uniformed Europe, when cultural and ethnic issues rise to the surface. The play introduces the indirect impact of this call for an integrated and democratic Europe when it stirs regime change in one of Eastern European countries. Subsequently, this public dilemma leads to private tensions in the lives of certain ethnic groups in the country. The play interrogates European ethical realities, and poses the questions: is merely following the “Western” model will make this country typical European? Is just being contained within the continental borders will guarantee for its people real European identities? or shall “European integration” rather turn into a pattern of segregation?
The play is hailed as the first serious response to the tragedy of Sarajevo and a daring piece of drama that tantalizes upon the myth of the European ideal with all the cynicism it presents.