Sites and Sightlines: Staging Andrea Levy’s Small Island

Osborne, Deirdre. 2022. Sites and Sightlines: Staging Andrea Levy’s Small Island. In: , ed. UNSPECIFIED 53 (1-2) Johns Hopkins University Press, pp. 219-255. [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

This article investigates the multiple performances of Andrea Levy’s novel Small Island (2004) as play, theatre production, and audiobook, noting the identities of its adapters in an environment of renewed criticism about the lack of inclusion of minoritized groups in Britain’s performing arts sector. Stuart Hall’s prompt to give “proper attention to chains of causation and conditions of existence, to questions of periodiza- tion and conjuncture” (23) underpins my analysis of both Helen Edmundson’s dramatization and Rufus Norris’ Royal National Theatre production of the 2019 play. I illuminate the complex factors inflecting their theatre event. Small Island might even be viewed as a socio-cultural barometer of what has changed and what remains the same in the British theatre complex since Levy first published Small Island. I further examine mediation and inter-mediality in Levy’s self-narrated audiobook through the conceptual model of audio-narratology, in which Levy becomes both embodied and disembodied author(ity). While Small Island’s landmark season as an adapted play celebrates Levy’s accomplish- ment and suggests a measure of responsiveness to longstanding criticism of mainstream British theatre’s lack of diversity, I argue that the project also exposes the fault lines of the institution.

Item Type:

Book Section

Identification Number (DOI):


black British drama, Small Island, Andrea Levy, audio-book, diversity

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


January 2022Accepted
2 February 2022Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

16 Feb 2022 15:33

Last Modified:

01 Jan 2023 21:36


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