By Robert Leach
Theatre Workshop: Joan Littlewood and the Making of Modern British Theatre is the first in-depth study of perhaps Britain’s most influential twentieth-century theatre company. The book sets the company’s aims and achievements in their social, political and theatrical contexts, and explores the elements which made its success so important.
Robert Leach has provided the definitive account in this first full-length study of Theatre Workshop and the methods of its director from 1945 to 1965, Joan Littlewood. His book provides the historical and political context needed by theatre studies students (both school and university), who frequently encounter Oh What a Lovely War as part of their courses.
Contents: 1. Before Theatre Workshop: Politics and Performance, 1930-1945; Class against class; The world of the theatre; Workers' theatre; The challenge of fascism; Slow approach of war; 2. Theatre Workshop 1945-1953: Political Theatre; Days of hope; Days of disappointment; The plays of Ewan MacColl; Actor training; 3. Theatre Workshop 1953-1956; New Elizabethans; Stratford East; Matters financial; The Theatre Workshop actor; 4. Theatre Workshop 1956-1964: Popular Theatre; Never had it so good?; The royal smut hound; New plays; Joan Littlewood, director; Staging the plays; 5. After Theatre Workshop: Meanings and Legacy; The final years; Meanings; Legacies.
‘In this definitive study Leach provides answers to these questions. Writing with the needs of Theatre Studies students in mind, he sets the Company’s aims and achievements in their social, political and theatrical contexts, and explores the elements which makes its success so important.’ (Amateur Stage, February 2007) ‘…this must become the major research study, in which Robert Leach unlocks the answers to the innumerable questions that practitioners and scholars have asked for the last half century. After Mr Melvin’s feeble attempt to define the role of Theatre Workshop’s role in society, it is a joy that a great scholar has, in the most accessible way as is more the wont of the archaeologist, unearthed the truths that so many of us, including himself, have sought for so long. An inspiring and compulsive read.’ (Amateur Stage, February 2007) ‘This study will give both students and academics a clearer picture of a part of British theatre which has not been forgotten entirely, but which has been left unconsidered for perhaps too long.’ (David Pattie, NTQ, Vol. 24/2, May 2008)
Robert Leach is a theatre scholar and a practising theatre director; he teaches acting at the Cumbria Institute for the Arts; he has taught drama at the universities of Edinburgh and Birmingham. His many successful theatre books have concentrated on revolutionary and political theatre, most recently Makers of Modern Theatre (Routledge, 2004).
Theatre Workshop - Hardback cover
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