Helping Themselves- The Left Wing Middle Classes in Theatre and the Arts
    Gregory Motton wrote Helping Themselves - The
    Left Wing Middle Classes in Theatre and the Arts,
    in 2008. It was the culmination of 25 years of
    standing in opposition to the received thinking of  
    the whole arts establishment and, as the title
    implies, the left wing middle classes.
    The author of any such book is putting himself
    automatically on the wrong side of anyone with
    any power of influence in the arts or theatre
    world, and gives up any hope of being accepted by
    them. Not that Motton had much to hope for or to
    lose from those quarters. But this book finished
    off a battle he had fought against them all along
    from the very first days at the Royal Court, and he
    uses all he knows of his adversary to unravel their
    deceit, as he sees it.
    It is a bold and a brave book, and cost Motton his
    publisher and, shortly after, his agent, and left
    him if possible, more isolated than he had ever
    been. With the publication of the book, Motton's
    position as dissident went beyond question, as he
    was now openly in opposition to the
    establishment, in the arts, and in politics. In one
    important chapter Gregory Motton calls into
    question the Royal Court's picture of itself as a
    writers' theatre and also its working class
    credentials. He goes so far as to publish in the book
    a list of the leading lights of the Court, along with
    the public schools they went to and the fees they
    It is both a subtle and a wide ranging book,
    covering the visual arts with a long and complex
    chapter about Herbert Read, Arts Council funding,
    Freud, Althusser , Rousseau, Marx, Look Back in
    Anger, Violence in the theatre, Sarah Kane, and in
    a detailed look at the famous Oz trial, hits at the
    widely held presumptions of the whole of the arts
    community. The pages are awash with the blood of
    sacred cows.
    Oberon books refused to publish the book despite
    having commissioned it, unless Motton removed
    the chapter on the Royal Court, which he refused
    to do. Oberon feared legal action from the Court,
    but in fact as it turned out, the current artistic
    director there, Dominic Cooke had no problem
    with the book, which Motton presented to him,
    and agreed to put it on sale in the Royal Court's
    own bookshop!  For all its faults , the Court wasn't
    totally averse to a little bit of criticism. After all,
    weren't the sons of the Royal Court traditionally
    supposed to be anti establishment - it was just that
    it was now the Royal Court itself that was the
    establishment. One of the main points of Motton's
    book was to make clear who and what now was the
    establishment. It was an important book, whose
    relevance went far beyond the theatre and the arts.

    No newspaper would review it, especially not the
    left wings papers. Until Dame Beryl Bainbridge, the
    darling of the Guardian, offered to write one for
    the Guardian, who then commissioned her to do it.
    They were pleased by the idea of having a review
    penned by the then severely ailing Bainbridge,....
    pleased that is, until they read it. Upon reading the
    very positive review, which seemed to revel in this
    attack upon left wing complacency, the Guardian
    went silent. When Bainbridge asked them from her
    deathbed when they were going to publish it, they
    finally said they were not going to. They even went
    so far as to claim that the Dame had not written it.  
    Dame Beryl Bainbridge, herself an occasional
    outspoken rebel again platitudes, and a bit of a
    loose cannon, died on 2nd July 2010 and the
    review became unpublishable.  

    Click here to read that review now , in its entirety.
    You can see why the Guardian didn't like it.
Helping Themsleves - The Left Wing
Middle Classes in Theatre and the Arts

By Gregory Motton
Gregory Motton, author of Helping Themselves-  The Left Wing Middle Classes in Theatre and the Arts
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