Theatre in Towns offers a contemporary perspective on the role of theatre in the cultural life of towns in England. Exploring volunteer-led, professional and community theatres, this book investigates the rich and diverse ways that theatres in towns serve their locality, negotiate their civic role, participate in networks of mutual aid and exchange, and connect audiences beyond their geographical borders.
With a geographical focus on post-industrial, seaside, commuter and market towns in England, the book opens questions about how theatre shapes the narratives of town life, and how localism, networks and partnerships across and between towns contribute to living sustainably. Each chapter is critically and historically informed, drawing on original research in towns, including visits to performances and many conversations with townspeople, from theatre-makers, performers, set-builders, front-of-house volunteers, to audience members and civic leaders. Theatre in Towns asks urgent questions about how the relationships between towns and theatres can be redefined in new and equitable ways in the future.
Theatre in Towns brings new research to scholars and students of theatre studies, cultural geography, cultural and social policy and political sociology. It will also interest artists, policy-makers and researchers wanting to develop their own and others’ understanding of the value of active theatre cultures in towns.
The Open Access version of this book, available at www.taylorfrancis.com, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.
Table of Contents
1. Theatres in Towns: Places of Hope and Experiment 2. Local Theatres: Cultures of Participation 3. Making a Civic Spectacle: Towns for Rent 4. Volunteer-led Theatres: Meshworks of a Coastal Town 5. Made to Connect: Theatrical Exchange between Towns and Cities 6. Hopeful Futures: Theatres in Towns
Helen Nicholson is Professor of Theatre and Performance at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK. Her research addresses theatre in community settings, often focusing on theatre in places that are overlooked. She has published widely on applied theatre, theatre education, amateur theatre and participatory arts.
Jenny Hughes is Professor of Drama at the University of Manchester, UK. Her research engages with the intersections of socially-engaged performance, economic justice and social change agendas, and activist art. She has published on theatre and performance in relation to socio-economic inequality, protest events, histories of welfare and political emergency.
Gemma Edwards is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Manchester, UK. Her work focuses on place, politics, and performance, particularly in non-metropolitan contexts. She has published on rurality in contemporary theatre, and her next project explores race, class, and English nationhood from 1945 to the present.
Cara Gray was a postdoctoral researcher on the Civic Theatres: A Place for Towns project, at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK. She is an interdisciplinary researcher whose work sits across theatre and performance and cultural geography. Past research has explored the cultural geographies of amateur creativity: publishing on the spaces, materialities, and creative processes of backstage theatre-makers, specifically set-builders.