Other Theatres: The Development of Alternative and by Andrew Davies

By Andrew Davies

Dialogue of the British theatre has a tendency to target "the West finish Theatre" which emerged within the overdue 19th century. In Other Theatres, Andrew Davies offers a full of life advent to the real culture of other and experimental theatre because it has built during the last two hundred years. He considers a vast diversity of tasks contain Yiddish drama, suffragette theatre, Irish and Scottish drama, the repertory circulate, military theatre, Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop, substitute theatre because the Sixties, and tv drama, tracing out their dating either to mainstream theatre and to each other.

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4 Similarly Karl Marx's wife Jenny, an avid theatre-goer, complained of the audience's restraint in an article published in the mid-1870s: 'It sat in deadly silence, with only an occasional timid clapping: no such applause as might encourage the young actor. '5 Such a transformation was not confined to London. '6 The same process was occurring in virtually all the provincial cities. Within other forms of entertainment such as the music hall, parallel developments were taking place. The earlier halls had grown out of pubs and saloon bars, but by the second halfofthe century proprietors were realising the financial benefits which accrued both from economies of scale and a family audience.

There was simply no other model of theatre available on which playwrights could draw in an attempt to get away from the crude characterisations and stereotypes of melodrama. This is not to argue that melodrama can never function as a political force in the theatre or elsewhere, but merely that during this period it did not do so. A second problem lay in the difficulty of producing theatrical events - drama is the most social of forms and therefore requires a great deal of organisation. The labour movement at this time clearly did not think, or even actively consider, that such effort was worthwhile.

In the course of the 1890s the character of club entertainment began to change, away from the amateur provision of earlier days towards professional performers operating on a circuit with all the trappings of agents and stardom. ,18 I t is not the case that no one in the labour movement at the end of the nineteenth century was interested in the arts. Certainly some Fabians like Beatrice Webb distrusted the theatre, but others such as Stewart Headlam called for the provision of 'public theatres'.

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