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Twentieth-Century British Theatre
Industry, Art and Empire


  • Date Published: July 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107419858

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About the Authors
  • In this book, Claire Cochrane maps the experience of theatre across the British Isles during the twentieth century through the social and economic factors which shaped it. Three topographies for 1900, 1950 and 2000 survey the complex plurality of theatre within the nation-state which at the beginning of the century was at the hub of world-wide imperial interests and after one hundred years had seen unprecedented demographic, economic and industrial change. Cochrane analyses the dominance of London theatre, but redresses the balance in favour of the hitherto marginalised majority experience in the English regions and the other component nations of the British political construct. Developments arising from demographic change are outlined, especially those relating to the rapid expansion of migrant communities representing multiple ethnicities. Presenting fresh historiographic perspectives on twentieth-century British theatre, the book breaks down the traditionally accepted binary oppositions between different sectors, showing a broader spectrum of theatre practice.

    • Includes a detailed account of Black British and British Asian theatre as it develops through the twentieth century, allowing the reader to trace a thorough and extensive chronology
    • Focuses on economic and social factors, showing the reader how theatre functions as an industry and how that relates to the social impact of theatre as cultural practice
    • Readers can trace the history of migration into the UK from the former colonies and how professional access and opportunity were enabled or still constrained within theatre by the end of the century
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Fascinating …' Michael Quinn, The Stage

    'It is a mark of this study's very substantial achievement that it opens up many areas for further study and it will be an important guide to the territory for years to come … it is a significant contribution to theatre history and theatre historiography.' Trevor R. Griffiths, Theatre Notebook

    'Twentieth-Century British Theatre offers a goldmine of data on the social, economic and political traits of British theatre … This book offers a necessary foundation for all future studies of twentieth-century British theatre.' Thomas Postlewait, Theatre Survey

    '… [an] impressive study of theatrical organisation in the British Isles … The idea of a cultural totality made up of overlapping spheres is crucial to Cochrane's account and she replaces a model based on binaries (commercial versus non-commercial) with one based on topographical interlocking circles of influence …' John Stokes, The Times Literary Supplement

    'This ambitious volume attempts the challenging task of presenting the reader with an account of the past century of theatre industry and practice. Its epic style provides a narrative account of the structural history of theatre makers in the UK … [It] offers the reader a meticulously researched and lovingly compiled account of theatre over a century.' Catherine Rees, New Theatre Quarterly

    'We should cherish books such as Cochrane's which scrupulously sift through vast and varied sources, explore incisive research questions, develop critical standpoints to already existing work, and seek to contribute intellectually, and with originality, to their field. This broad-reaching history demonstrates adroitly that there is no getting away from Empire, no matter how hard its apologists try - just as there is no substitute for rigour and sustained intellectual reflection which advances knowledge in one's research field … a rich resource for postgraduates and academics.' Deirdre Osborne, Contemporary Theatre Review

    'Cochrane's book will occupy a crucial space in the study of modern theatre history in the UK. By focusing on the twentieth century through both macro- and micro-frames, she successfully provides detailed, richly textured portraits of British theatre as both an industrial and artistic concern, while exploding the myth that everything of consequence in British theatre happened exclusively in London.' Richard St Peter, Theatre Journal

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107419858
    • length: 364 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.49kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The topography of theatre in 1900
    2. Structures of management
    3. The profession of acting
    4. The amateur phenomenon
    5. The topography of theatre in 1950
    6. The business of theatre
    7. The changing demographic of performance
    8. The topography of theatre in 2000

  • Author

    Claire Cochrane, University of Worcester
    Claire Cochrane is Senior Lecturer in Drama and Performance at the University of Worcester where she both teaches and directs medieval and English Renaissance drama in performance and new writing for the theatre. She is the author of Shakespeare and the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, 1913–1929 (1993) and Birmingham Rep: A City's Theatre, 1962–2002 (2003). Her other publications include essays on regional developments in contemporary Black British and British Asian theatre and articles in journals such as Theatre Research International and New Theatre Quarterly on the historiography of amateur theatre.

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