john ralston saul, Chritopher Lasch, lorca, margaret Morse,
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John Ralston Saul - the Canadian writer's Voltaire's Bastards (1991) ranks alongside Margaret Morse's Virtualities (1997) as among the best social thinking in print of the nineties. No writer living today matches Saul's Tolstoyan faith in "the people" and capacity to speak to and for the public outside of the constraints imposed by the elites. Indeed, with Voltaire's Bastards, Saul launched a stinging "j'accuse" against the contemporary business and governmental elites, accusing them of abandoning the interests of society as a whole. This theme was to be taken up by Christopher Lasch, whose book the Revolt of the Elites had great influence in Australia (and not all for the good!).

Christopher Lasch - of Culture of Narcissism fame, Lasch's Revolt of the Elites served as the (successful) election manual of the incoming Coalition Government in Australia in 1996. Howard and his strategists capitalised upon ordinary people's growing distrust of social elites. Lasch, who died shortly before, no doubt was spinning in the grave at this usage of his work, which is highly passionate, if despondent at the direction of western society.

Federico Garcia Lorca - killed in the Spanish civil war, the great playwright and poet led a theatre company in the popular tradition. That is, the company brought theatre to workplaces halls and townsquares, to places where ordinary people live and do.

Margaret Morse - An Associate Professor in film and video at the University of California. Her clinically precise yet accessible book Virtualities is arguably the finest and most nuanced account of the contemporary "culture of illusion".

Pierre Bourdieu - This French sociologist showed in his book Distinctions that art is used as cultural capital by relatively narrow segments of the population. His work has important implications for democratising art funding policy, among other things

Joan Littlewood and Ewan MacColl - founders of the famous postwar English theatre troupe Theatre Workshop, Littlewood and MacColl revived for a time the British tradition of popular theatre - and took important steps, albeit incomplete steps, towards changing theatre acting methodology so as to make it more lively and organic, and thus appeal to ordinary audiences.

Wilhem Reich - The Giordano Bruno of the twentieth century, dismissed as a looney by many, Reich is nonetheless a seminal figure in the twentieth century recovery of the body and the emotions. Character Analysis and the Function of the Orgasm are perhaps his greatest works. Sharaf's Fury on Earth is the finest account of Reich. Among other things, Reich's work has great, largely unexplored implications for live performance.

Coming soon:

DW Winnicott, Manuel Castells and more.

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