The term "left-wing" and "right-wing" were first used to describe the attitudes of deputies in the Estates-General at the end of the French monarchy and then in the National Assembly during the revolution of 1789 and onwards.
The term described their seating position in the assembly.
Does this mean theatremakers are all deluded liberals living in a milquetoast left-wing bubble? I mean obviously theatre is full of lefties, but it is simply a terrible platform for far-right values.
Even when it’s bad, or stupid, or wildly misguided, theatre is an intrinsically empathetic art form, because most plays consist of four-ish people talking for about two hours, and it’s really difficult to sustain dialogue for that long without offering serious consideration to each character’s world view.
I once read a book about theatre in Nazi Germany, and it turns out there wasn’t any.
So that’s cool, there won’t be any populist, right-wing plays. I mean, sure: the populist right is fundamentally driven by simplistic, demonstrably false narratives.
Some left-wing movements, through a long and arduous journey, learned that favouring equality over individual freedoms was incoherent.
Individual freedoms are closely linked to freedoms in general, including political ones, which are a condition for equality.
Actually, I’m not sure if I totally agree with my own assessment. Conversely, the idea Tories never get a chance is absurd when you consider the enduring popularity of Noel Coward and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Certainly there are playwrights who set out to confront liberal values: Richard Bean and Bruce Norris are obvious ones, and up-and-comer Stuart Slade’s brilliant current fringe transfer smash BU21 all but picks a fight with its imagined lefty audience. The ‘problem’, at least in regard to the query in question, is that theatre doesn’t have a Yiannopoulos or – heaven help us – a Donald Trump figure: outrageous, irrational, hate-spewing demagogues who make for brilliant TV.
These were the supporters of the French Republic, who believed in equality among political estates, calling for abolishing the privileges of the clergy and the nobility.