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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
March 2024
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Book description

British theatre underwent a vast transformation and expansion in the decades after World War II. This Companion explores the historical, political, and social contexts and conditions that not only allowed it to expand but, crucially, shaped it. Resisting a critical tendency to focus on plays alone, the collection expands understanding of British theatre by illuminating contexts such as funding, unionisation, devolution, immigration, and changes to legislation. Divided into four parts, it guides readers through changing attitudes to theatre-making (acting, directing, writing), theatre sectors (West End, subsidised, Fringe), theatre communities (audiences, Black theatre, queer theatre), and theatre's relationship to the state (government, infrastructure, nationhood). Supplemented by a valuable Chronology and Guide to Further Reading, it presents up-to-date approaches informed by critical race theory, queer studies, audience studies, and archival research to demonstrate important new ways of conceptualising post-war British theatre's history, practices and potential futures.


‘Harvie and Rebellato's comprehensive assessment of postwar British theatre is highly readable and superbly researched. This is an essential tool for students, scholars, and artists interested in understanding the ‘offstage' stories shaping British postwar performance.'

Kim Solga - University of Western Ontario

‘This is a valuable Companion to the contexts of British theatre, ranging from considerations of labour, through matters economic and civic, to theatre's relations with the State. Contributors to the volume commendably criss-cross seventy five years of British theatre. Doing so, they excavate past connections to present, persistent and pressing questions of equality, diversity, and inclusivity. A welcome addition to studies that renews our understanding of how material conditions contour theatre's (still unequal) landscape.'

Elaine Aston - Lancaster University

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