J. B. Priestley's Time Plays

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The 'Time Plays' are a series of dramas written by British author J. B. Priestley written during the 1930s and 40s. They are so called because each plays with a different concept of time. In each play an alternative theory of time becomes the central metaphor or theatrical device of the play, the characters' lives being affected by how they react to the unusual temporal landscape they encounter.

The Time Plays are usually thought of as including Dangerous Corner, in which exposure of a group of characters' dark secrets is wiped out when the play returns to the beginning at the fall of the curtain; Time and the Conways, which explores J. W. Dunne's theory of simultaneous time expounded in the book An Experiment with Time; I Have Been Here Before, which is inspired by P. D. Ouspensky's theory of eternal recurrence from A New Model of the Universe; Johnson Over Jordan, in which a man encounters a series of trials in the afterlife; The Long Mirror, in which a woman (an artist) has a curiously intimate relationship with a man (a musician) she has never met in the real world before. After five years of sharing his life in the spirit they finally meet at a Welsh hotel and, most famously, An Inspector Calls, in which a family undergo a police investigation into a suicide which they later discover has not happened yet.

Of all the theories of time employed in the plays Priestley professed to believe only in one: that of J. W. Dunne. Although these plays are still popular with audiences and regularly undergo revivals in the UK, critical opinion remains divided about their literary worth and the validity, or not, of the use of the time theories as theatrical devices.[citation needed]

The Long Mirror was performed at The Pentameters Theatre in Hampstead 18 January 2011 until 6 February 2011.[dated info]

Recently, Pictures of Bright Lights, a play by Maree Freeman, was on show at Bondi in Sydney which portrayed themes from J.B. Priestley's "Time Plays."[dated info]

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