Kitchen sink realism (or kitchen sink drama) is a British cultural movement that developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s in theatre, art,  novels, film and television plays, whose protagonists usually could be described as "angry young men" who were disillusioned with modern society. It used a style of social realism which depicted the domestic situations of working-class Britons, living in cramped rented accommodation and spending their off-hours drinking in grimy pubs, to explore controversial social and political issues ranging from abortion to homelessness. The harsh, realistic style contrasted sharply with the escapism of the previous generation's so-called "well-made plays".
The films, plays and novels employing this style are often set in poorer industrial areas in the North of England, and use the accents and slang heard in those regions. The film It Always Rains on Sunday (1947) is a precursor of the genre and the John Osborne play Look Back in Anger (1956) is thought of as the first of the genre. The gritty love-triangle of Look Back in Anger, for example, takes place in a cramped, one-room flat in the English Midlands. Shelagh Delaney's 1958 play A Taste of Honey (which was made into a film of the same name in 1961) is about a teenage schoolgirl who has an affair with a black sailor, gets pregnant and then moves in with a gay male acquaintance; it raises issues such as class, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation. The conventions of the genre have continued into the 2000s, finding expression in such television shows as Coronation Street and EastEnders . 
The term "Kitchen Sink School" was first used in the visual arts, where the art critic David Sylvester used it in 1954 to describe a group of painters who called themselves the Beaux Arts Quartet, and depicted social realist-type scenes of domestic life. 
The cultural movement was rooted in the ideals of social realism, an artistic movement expressed in the visual and other realist arts which depicts working class activities. Many artists who subscribed to social realism were painters with socialist political views.[ citation needed ] While the movement has some commonalities with Socialist Realism, another style of realism which was the "official art" advocated by the governments of the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries, the two had several differences. While social realism is a broader type of art that realistically depicts subjects of social concern,  Socialist realism is characterized by the glorified depiction of socialist values, such as the emancipation of the proletariat, in a realistic manner. 
Unlike Socialist realism, social realism is not an official art produced by or under the supervision of the government. The leading characters are often 'anti-heroes' rather than part of a class to be admired, as in Socialist realism.[ citation needed ] Typically, protagonists in social realism are dissatisfied with their working class lives and the world, rather than being idealised workers who are part of a Socialist utopia in the process of creation. As such, social realism allows more space for the subjectivity of the author to be displayed.
Partly, social realism developed as a reaction against Romanticism [ citation needed ], which promoted lofty concepts such as the "ineffable" beauty and truth of art and music and even turned them into spiritual ideals. As such, social realism focused on the "ugly realities of contemporary life and sympathized with working class people, particularly the poor." (The quotation is from George Shi, of the University of Fine Arts, Valencia). 
Kitchen sink realism involves working class settings  and accents, including accents from Northern England.  The films and plays often explore taboo subjects such as adultery, pre-marital sex, abortion, and crime. 
In the United Kingdom, the term "kitchen sink" derived from an expressionist painting by John Bratby that contained an image of a kitchen sink.[ citation needed ] Bratby did various kitchen and bathroom-themed paintings, including three paintings of toilets. Bratby's paintings of people often depicted the faces of his subjects as desperate and unsightly.   Kitchen sink realism artists painted everyday objects, such as trash cans and beer bottles. 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.  Other artists associated with the kitchen sink style include Derrick Greaves, Edward Middleditch and Jack Smith. 
Before the 1950s, the United Kingdom's working class were often depicted stereotypically in Noël Coward's drawing room comedies and British films.[ citation needed ] Kitchen sink realism was seen as being in opposition to the "well-made play", the kind which theatre critic Kenneth Tynan once denounced as being set in "Loamshire", of dramatists like Terence Rattigan. "Well-made plays" were a dramatic genre from nineteenth-century theatre which found its early 20th-century codification in Britain in the form of William Archer's Play-Making: A Manual of Craftmanship (1912),  and in the United States with George Pierce Baker's Dramatic Technique (1919).  Kitchen sink works were created with the intention of changing all that. Their political views were initially labeled as radical, sometimes even anarchic.
John Osborne's play Look Back in Anger (1956) depicted young men in a way that is similar to the then-contemporary "Angry Young Men" movement of film and theatre directors. The "angry young men" were a group of mostly working and middle class British playwrights and novelists who became prominent in the 1950s. Following the success of the Osborne play, the label "angry young men" was later applied by British media to describe young writers who were characterised by a disillusionment with traditional British society. The hero of Look Back In Anger is a graduate, but he is working in a manual occupation. It dealt with social alienation, the claustrophobia and frustrations of a provincial life on low incomes.[ citation needed ]
The impact of this work inspired Arnold Wesker, Shelagh Delaney, and numerous others, to write plays of their own.[ citation needed ] The English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre, headed by George Devine and Theatre Workshop organised by Joan Littlewood were particularly prominent in bringing these plays to public attention. Critic John Heilpern wrote that Look Back in Anger expressed such "immensity of feeling and class hatred" that it altered the course of English theatre.  The term "Angry theatre" was coined by critic John Russell Taylor. 
This was all part of the British New Wave—a transposition of the concurrent nouvelle vague film movement in France, some of whose works, such as The 400 Blows of 1959, also emphasised the lives of the urban proletariat. British filmmakers such as Tony Richardson and Lindsay Anderson (see also Free Cinema) channelled their vitriolic anger into film making. Confrontational films such as Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) and A Taste of Honey (1961) were noteworthy movies in the genre. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning is about a young machinist who spends his wages at weekends on drinking and having a good time, until his affair with a married woman leads to her getting pregnant and him being beaten by her husband's cousins to the point of hospitalisation. A Taste of Honey is about a 16-year old schoolgirl with an abusive, alcoholic mother. The schoolgirl starts a relationship with a black sailor and gets pregnant. After the sailor leaves on his ship, Jo moves in with a homosexual acquaintance who assumes the role of surrogate father. A Taste of Honey raises the issues of class, race, gender and sexual orientation.[ citation needed ]
Later, as many of these writers and directors diversified, kitchen sink realism was taken up by television directors who produced television plays. The single play was then a staple of the medium, and Armchair Theatre (1956–68), produced by the ITV contractor ABC, The Wednesday Play (1964–70) and Play for Today (1970–84), both BBC series, contained many works of this kind. Jeremy Sandford's television play Cathy Come Home (1966, directed by Ken Loach for The Wednesday Play slot) for instance, addressed the issue of homelessness. 
Kitchen sink realism was used in the novels of Stan Barstow, John Braine, Alan Sillitoe and others. 
The influence of kitchen sink realism has continued in the work of many more recent British directors, most notably Ken Loach (whose first directorial roles were in late 1960s kitchen sink dramas) and Mike Leigh. Other directors to continue working within the spirit of kitchen sink realism include Shane Meadows, Andrea Arnold, Clio Barnard, and Lynne Ramsay.  The term "neo kitchen sink" has been used for films such as Leigh's 2004 Vera Drake . 
Cecil Antonio "Tony" Richardson was an English theatre and film director and producer whose career spanned five decades. In 1964, he won the Academy Award for Best Director for the film Tom Jones.
Socialist realism is a style of idealized realistic art that was developed in the Soviet Union and was the official style in that country between 1932 and 1988, as well as in other socialist countries after World War II. Socialist realism is characterized by the depiction of communist values, such as the emancipation of the proletariat. Despite its name, the figures in the style are very often highly idealized, especially in sculpture, where it often leans heavily on the conventions of classical sculpture. Although related, it should not be confused with social realism, a type of art that realistically depicts subjects of social concern, or other forms of "realism" in the visual arts. Socialist realism was made with an extremely literal and obvious meaning, usually showing an idealized USSR. Socialist realism was usually devoid of complex artistic meaning or interpretation.
The "angry young men" were a group of mostly working- and middle-class British playwrights and novelists who became prominent in the 1950s. The group's leading figures included John Osborne and Kingsley Amis; other popular figures included John Braine, Alan Sillitoe, and John Wain. The phrase was originally coined by the Royal Court Theatre's press officer in order to promote Osborne's 1956 play Look Back in Anger. It is thought to be derived from the autobiography of Leslie Paul, founder of the Woodcraft Folk, whose Angry Young Man was published in 1951.
Social realism is the term used for work produced by painters, printmakers, photographers, writers and filmmakers that aims to draw attention to the real socio-political conditions of the working class as a means to critique the power structures behind these conditions. While the movement's characteristics vary from nation to nation, it almost always utilizes a form of descriptive or critical realism.
A political drama can describe a play, film or TV program that has a political component, whether reflecting the author's political opinion, or describing a politician or series of political events.
Look Back in Anger (1956) is a realist play written by John Osborne. It focuses on the life and marital struggles of an intelligent and educated but disaffected young man of working-class origin, Jimmy Porter, and his equally competent yet impassive upper-middle-class wife Alison. The supporting characters include Cliff Lewis, an amiable Welsh lodger who attempts to keep the peace; and Helena Charles, Alison's snobbish friend.
A Taste of Honey is the first play by the British dramatist Shelagh Delaney, written when she was 19. It was intended as a novel, but she turned it into a play because she hoped to revitalise British theatre and address social issues that she thought were not being presented. The play was produced by Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop and premiered at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, a socialist fringe theatre in London, on 27 May 1958. The production then transferred to Wyndham's Theatre in the West End on 10 February 1959.
The British New Wave is a style of films released in Great Britain between 1959 and 1963. The label is a translation of Nouvelle Vague, the French term first applied to the films of François Truffaut, and Jean-Luc Godard among others.
The Entertainer is a 1960 British kitchen sink drama film directed by Tony Richardson, produced by Harry Saltzman and adapted by John Osborne and Nigel Kneale from Osborne’s stage play of the same name. The film stars Laurence Olivier as Archie Rice, a failing third-rate music-hall stage performer who tries to keep his career going even as the music-hall tradition fades into history and his personal life falls apart. It was filmed on location in the Lancashire seaside town of Morecambe. Olivier was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
Sid Chaplin was an English writer whose works are mostly set in the north-east of England, in the 1940s and 1950s.
John Randall Bratby RA was an English painter who founded the kitchen sink realism style of art that was influential in the late 1950s. He made portraits of his family and celebrities. His works were seen in television and film. Bratby was also a writer.
Literary realism is a literary genre, part of the broader realism in arts, that attempts to represent subject-matter truthfully, avoiding speculative fiction and supernatural elements. It originated with the realist art movement that began with mid-nineteenth-century French literature (Stendhal) and Russian literature. Literary realism attempts to represent familiar things as they are. Realist authors chose to depict everyday and banal activities and experiences.
Free Cinema was a documentary film movement that emerged in the United Kingdom in the mid-1950s. The term referred to an absence of propagandised intent or deliberate box office appeal. Co-founded by Lindsay Anderson with Karel Reisz, Tony Richardson and Lorenza Mazzetti, the movement began with a programme of three short films at the National Film Theatre, London on 5 February 1956. The programme was such a success that five more programmes appeared under the ‘Free Cinema’ banner before the founders decided to end the series. The last event was held in March 1959. Three of the screenings consisted of work from overseas filmmakers.
A Taste of Honey is a 1961 British film adaptation of the 1958 play of the same name by Shelagh Delaney. Delaney wrote the screenplay with director Tony Richardson, who had directed the play on the stage. It is an exemplar of a gritty genre of British film that has come to be called kitchen sink realism.
Look Back in Anger is a 1959 British kitchen sink drama film starring Richard Burton, Claire Bloom and Mary Ure and directed by Tony Richardson. The film is based on John Osborne's play about a love triangle involving an intelligent but disaffected working-class young man, his upper-middle-class, impassive wife (Alison) and her haughty best friend. Cliff, an amiable Welsh lodger, attempts to keep the peace. The character of Ma Tanner, only referred to in the play, is brought to life in the film by Edith Evans as a dramatic device to emphasise the class difference between Jimmy and Alison. The film and play are classic examples of the British cultural movement known as kitchen sink realism.
Proletarian literature refers here to the literature created by left-wing writers mainly for the class-conscious proletariat. Though the Encyclopædia Britannica states that because it "is essentially an intended device of revolution", it is therefore often published by the Communist Party or left wing sympathizers, the proletarian novel has also been categorized without any emphasis on revolution, as a novel "about the working classes and working-class life; perhaps with the intention of making propaganda". This different emphasis may reflect a difference between Russian, American and other traditions of working-class writing, with that of Britain. The British tradition was not especially inspired by the Communist Party, but had its roots in the Chartist movement, and socialism, amongst others. Furthermore, writing about the British working-class writers, H Gustav Klaus, in The Socialist Novel: Towards the Recovery of a Tradition (1982) suggested that "the once current [term] 'proletarian' is, internationally, on the retreat, while the competing concepts of 'working-class' and 'socialist' continue to command about equal adherence".
A television play is a television programming genre which is a drama performance broadcast from a multi-camera television studio, usually live in the early days of television but later recorded to tape. This is in contrast to a television movie, which employs the single-camera setup of film production.
Realism in the arts is generally the attempt to represent subject matter truthfully, without artificiality and avoiding speculative and supernatural elements. The term is often used interchangeably with naturalism, although these terms are not synonymous. Naturalism, as an idea relating to visual representation in Western art, seeks to depict objects with the least possible amount of distortion and is tied to the development of linear perspective and illusionism in Renaissance Europe. Realism, while predicated upon naturalistic representation and a departure from the idealization of earlier academic art, often refers to a specific art historical movement that originated in France in the aftermath of the French Revolution of 1848. With artists like Gustave Courbet capitalizing on the mundane, ugly or sordid, realism was motivated by the renewed interest in the common man and the rise of leftist politics. The Realist painters rejected Romanticism, which had come to dominate French literature and art, with roots in the late 18th century.
Shelagh Delaney, FRSL was an English dramatist and screenwriter. Her debut work, A Taste of Honey (1958), has been described by Michael Patterson as "probably the most performed play by a post-war British woman playwright".
Woodfall Film Productions was a British film production company established in the late 1950s. It was established by Tony Richardson, John Osborne and Harry Saltzman to make a screen adaptation of Osborne's best known play. The film version of Look Back in Anger, directed by Richardson and produced by Saltzman, was released in 1959.