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The imaginary archaeology of redevelopment
David Calder

This chapter explores how a street theatre company deploys different aesthetic and rhetorical tactics to engage with working-class heritage and local identity before and during urban redevelopment. PlayRec (2006–08) and SPP (2011–12), by KompleXKapharnaüM, offer two models of theatre archaeology that re-enact the excavation of the industrial past and the construction of local memory. PlayRec uses montage and shock aesthetics to restage the collection and distortion of personal testimony. SPP plays on the relation between irony and authenticity to engage spectators in the construction of a blatantly invented past for a blatantly invented neighbourhood (the Carré de Soie, straddling Villeurbanne and Vaulx-en-Velin, on the eastern outskirts of Lyon). The peculiar theatricality of each project reveals how street theatre can engage in critical praxis while caught up in redevelopment: its capacity to make change is linked to its capacity to make sense of change.

in Street theatre and the production of postindustrial space
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Collecting contacts with Gabrielle Enthoven
Kate Dorney

This chapter explores the personal and professional networks created by female theatre practitioners in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century through a detailed case study of Gabrielle Enthoven – actor, playwright, translator and theatre collector. Born into privilege, Enthoven was the daughter of a colonial administrator who grew up in Egypt and the Sudan. She lived in Windsor, met Oscar Wilde and played with the royal children, spending her twenties messing about on boats and in theatres with the local soldiers. She then married and moved to Chelsea and began to network with theatre and arts professionals before devoting her life and wealth to creating a world-class collection of theatre ephemera that she donated to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

in Stage women, 1900–50
Open Access (free)
Working memory
David Calder

This chapter introduces the book's primary focus: street theatre's production of postindustrial space. The introduction makes clear that there is no such thing as a postindustrial society: forms of labour accumulate rather than cleanly replacing each other. Nonetheless, deindustrializing communities have a vested interest in relegating industry to the past and presenting themselves as happily and healthily postindustrial. Street theatre is crucial to this process as a theatrical form that claims space as public, carves events from ongoing situations, and rescripts everyday behaviours. The necessity of street theatre to the production of the postindustrial means that street theatre companies benefit from and participate in redevelopment, but it also means that through street theatre the industrial may reassert itself in unanticipated ways. The introduction proposes working memory as a central metaphor for the theatrical and performative processes analysed throughout the book.

in Street theatre and the production of postindustrial space
Open Access (free)
Maggie B. Gale and Kate Dorney

The introduction contextualises issues of professional agency in relation to the history of women theatre and performance workers in the first half of the twentieth century. It provides a framework for the book as a whole and explains the chapters and their relationships with one another.

in Stage women, 1900–50
Open Access (free)
A theatre maker in every sense
Brian Singleton

Lily Brayton was one half of the twentieth century’s first celebrity couple on the London stage. Together with her husband, Oscar Asche, Brayton dominated popular theatre for a decade with her brave and ingenious characterisations of the ‘oriental woman’ in a series of plays from Kismet (1911) to Cairo (1921). She had come to fame, often in breeches roles, in popularised versions of Shakespeare plays since the turn of the century. Her ‘New Woman’ characterisations and performances were matched equally by her offstage business acumen. The chapter explores Brayton’s positive and successful image of woman, both on and off the stage, and sets this against her near erasure from theatre history as her separation from the stage occurred simultaneously with her separation from her husband.

in Stage women, 1900–50
Open Access (free)
Different voices, voicing difference
Gilli Bush-Bailey

In 1946 Mabel Constanduros published her autobiography, Shreds and Patches, as an account of her journey from shy middle-class wife and mother to creating and realising her very public role as ‘Grandma Buggins’ for BBC radio. This chapter focuses not so much on the well-trodden path of the performer’s rise from suburban obscurity to fame, but rather on the less well documented network of influence that enabled performing women to train and tailor their professional work in the fast-changing industry of the early twentieth century. Training with Elsie Fogerty and developing her skills as a ‘diseuse’ on amateur and professional stages between the wars, Constanduros wrote and performed for radio, film and later television. As one of many women making their way in a professional structure that welcomed their practice, if not always their insistence on agency, Constanduros offers a more coherent model of professional ambition and practice than the self-deprecating title of her autobiography suggests.

in Stage women, 1900–50
Open Access (free)
Margaret Rutherford
John Stokes

There has been little attempt to place Margaret Rutherford (1892–1972) historically, other than in a trajectory or tradition of roles typically defined as ‘eccentrics’. Even Rutherford herself referred dismissively to ‘my usual dotty old lady stuff’. This chapter, however, engages with the paradox that ‘eccentricity’, which normally refers to unconventional views or behaviour, has its own set of theatrical characteristics and is, in fact, central to the English comic inheritance. A comparative analysis is made of some of the ‘classic’ female roles that Rutherford took on, alongside an exploration of some of the famous parts she initiated, in light of the work of other contemporaneous actresses who may be said to have carried on the eccentric tradition in their own distinctive ways.

in Stage women, 1900–50
Open Access (free)
Actresses, charity work and the early twentieth-century theatre profession
Catherine Hindson

This chapter considers aspects of public charity work undertaken by actresses in the 1910s, focusing on their work selling for charitable causes within the commercial sector at Harrods department store in London. Charity labour has been overlooked in understandings of the theatre industry during this period, yet the considerable amount of voluntary work that actresses undertook was significant to the continuing improved social and cultural position of the British stage more generally. Charity work at home and overseas brought an increasing level of professionalisation to actresses’ work in the voluntary sector and wider recognition of the charitable activities they undertook.

in Stage women, 1900–50
Open Access (free)
Winifred Dolan beyond the West End
Lucie Sutherland

Winifred Dolan worked as an actress, theatre administrator, teacher and producer. She outlined her early work in West End theatre in her memoir, A Chronicle of Small Beer, but this narrative does not cover her subsequent work as a drama teacher and producer of amateur theatre. This chapter examines Dolan’s West End practice as her formative experience and focuses on her subsequent career: teaching drama and designing suitable spaces for that teaching and for amateur productions. An analysis of the range of evidence left by Dolan reveals the rich and complex links between professional theatre work, the teaching profession and the amateur theatre movement in the first half of the twentieth century.

in Stage women, 1900–50
Open Access (free)
Alternative pasts, sustainable futures
David Calder

This concluding chapter analyses two works of outdoor installation art that exemplify the production of postindustrial space. Compagnie Fer à Coudre’s Floraferrique and Fabrice Giraud’s Le Murmure des Plantes 2.0 fuse natural flora with industrial aesthetics. This chapter examines the installations as street theatre, demonstrating how they invite spectatorial participation even as they create a doubled temporality that complicates the call to action. Through their interplay of human and non-human agency, engagement with ecology, and construction of alternate pasts and futures, these projects offer new insight into street theatre's temporal, spatial, and political work.

in Street theatre and the production of postindustrial space