“Don’t Forget The Pierrots!'' The Complete History of British Pierrot Troupes & Concert Parties  book cover
1st Edition

“Don’t Forget The Pierrots!'' The Complete History of British Pierrot Troupes & Concert Parties

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after September 30, 2022
ISBN 9780367489182
September 30, 2022 Forthcoming by Routledge
432 Pages 120 B/W Illustrations

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USD $44.95

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Book Description

This volume is the first authoritative historical textbook to look at the origins, development and evolution of seaside pierrot troupes and concert parties and their popular performance heritage.

It will provide, for the first time, a definition of the pierrot troupe and its evolution from the roots of European popular traditions such as the commedia dell’arte and minstrelsy, to links between music hall and contemporary popular culture. Tony Lidington will explore how pierrot troupes grew from a single idea into a major international cultural industry and how it boosted morale and national identity during the two World Wars, before sublimating into contemporary pop music and comedy. Tony’s continuing practice as research provides an experiential framework for the historical and ethnographic analysis of the form.

This book will be of vital interest to students, researchers, and performers of outdoor (al fresco) arts, clowning and comedy, minstrelsy, vernacular music-making and music hall.

Table of Contents

List of figures


Support for writing and illustrations


Note about cover images

Preface: “The Pierrot fable”


1 “Here we are again!”: Current practice

2 “Trope to troupe”: The origins of Pierrot in Britain

3 Minstrels: White and black

4 “The Seaside Minstrels”

5 Proliferation

6 “Bringing Blighty to the Boys with troupes for the troops”: Pierrot troupes and concert parties in the First World War

7 Ambiguities in the evolution of the form and its developments during the inter-war years

8 Khaki-clad pierrot heroes: British concert parties/pierrot troupes in the Second World War

9 “It’s that troupe again …”: Concert party adaptations for the airwaves and post-war British pop culture

10 “Impacts and reverberations”: The ways in which the seaside troupe format has directly affected contemporary culture

11 Conclusion: Pierrots and concert parties provide a portal to past, present and future popular culture


Appendix 1: Timeline of pierrot/concert-party projects by Tony Lidington

Appendix 2: Programme for Moore & Burgess Minstrels, April 14th 1877

Appendix 3: early members of Clifford Essex’s troupe

Appendix 4: Table illustrating the date of the first connections to seaside resorts by steamer and railway

Appendix 5: Spreadsheet of troupes with the words “Royal” or “Imperial” in the title

Appendix 6: List of troupes formed prior to the First World War

Appendix 7: Song books & publishers for pierrot troupes and concert parties

Appendix 8: List of troupes operating in the First World War

Appendix 9: Pierrot troupe list for 1918–1939

Appendix 10: Numbers of ENSA performances (from information provided by Basil Dean)

Appendix 11: Annual budgetary expenditures for ENSA

Appendix 12: List of seaside shows opening 1946–1961

Appendix 13: The Roosters

Glossary of terms




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Tony Lidington is associate lecturer of Drama at the University of Exeter, UK. Tony has been a professional showman for 40 years – researching and implementing British popular entertainment forms in a wide variety of contexts throughout the country. He is founder and performer of the last-remaining professional seaside pierrot troupe the "Pierrotters" and has performed at countless resorts and events as his alter ego "Uncle Tacko!"