Patrick Wright – On Living in a World of Facades

Lecture date: 2011-02-08

On Living in a World of Facades: From Prince Potemkin to the Berlin Wall and the Truman Show

Public Occasion Agency

This lecture will describe how theatrical techniques have been employed to shape public and political reality in the modern era. It will consider three aspects of theatrical technique and their extension into the wider world: the growing symbiosis between acting and political leadership in the contemporary media landscape; the way in which the iron curtain, initially a metal barrier fitted into theatres as an anti-fire device, was used to define relations between blocs, states and nations in the twentieth century; the extent to which theatrical ideas of scene-building have been put to use in politics, architecture and international media reportage extending up through the war in Iraq.

Patrick Wright is a writer and broadcaster. He is Professor of Modern Cultural Studies at Nottingham Trent University, and a fellow of the London Consortium. His first book, On Living in an Old Country (1985), was a critical examination of the rise of ‘heritage’ as a theme in British public life, and he has since written A Journey Through Ruins: the Last Days of London (1991), The Village that Died for England (1995), Tank: the Progress of a Monstrous War Machine (2001), Iron Curtain: From Stage to Cold War (2007) and, most recently, Passport to Peking (2010), which traces the attempt, made by various British architects, artists, writers and scientists, to open an independent British relationship with the People’s Republic of China in 1954.


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