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Kitchen sink drama
Related: 1950s - 1960s - British literature - realism in film - realism in literature - social realism - kitchen - drama -
DefinitionKitchen sink realism was a recognisable English cultural movement in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It was seen in the theatre, in art, in novels, in film and in television plays, focusing on social realism relevant to the audience of the day.
The term "kitchen sink" derived from an expressionist painting by John Bratby, which contained an image of a kitchen sink. The critic David Sylvester wrote an article in 1954 about trends in recent English art, calling his article "The Kitchen Sink" in reference to Bratby's picture. Sylvester argued that there was a new interest among young painters in domestic scenes, with stress on the banality of life. Bratby painted several kitchen subjects, often turning practical utensils such as sieves and spoons into semi-abstract shapes. He also painted bathrooms, and made three paintings of toilets. Other artists associated with the "kitchen sink" style include Derrick Greaves, Edward Middleditch and Jack Smith.
The term was quickly applied to a new style of drama, the hallmark of which was a more realistic representation of social life; country houses and tennis courts were out; ironing boards and minor domestic squalor were in, as in John Osborne's play Look Back in Anger with ironing as a piece of stage business. This was a reaction against the Noel Coward/Terence Rattigan style of dramatic setting.
Another factor particularly notable in the films and novels of the time is the use of North of England situations, accents and themes (for example Rugby League, the iconic sport of Lancashire and Yorkshire). This combined with a frankness about sex, and a more political content (sometimes descending to rants), to mark a rather clean break with the assumptions of 1950 in the arts generally.
Kitchen sink realism is sometimes conflated with the rise of the Angry Young Men. It was in fact more substantive, less driven by journalistic excess, and is more properly its successor. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitchen_sink_drama [Jul 2006]
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