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Title: British theatres, 1926-1991 : an architectural history
Author: Fair, Alistair James
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2008
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This dissertation explores how changing ideas of dramatic performance and of theatre’s place in society have been given built form by reference to twelve British theatres from the period 1926-1991. Hitherto, theatres have often been relegated to the margins of architectural history, but their buildings fulfil important functional and symbolic roles in responding to the complex needs, aspirations, and aesthetic ideas of their users. Chapter One discusses three inter-war theatres which were all intended to be somehow ‘modern’. It shows that this concept was interpreted in different ways by reference to the Festival Theatre, Cambridge (1926); the New Victoria, London (1930); and the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon (1932). The main part of the study is concerned with six examples of the post-war subsidised theatre boom: the Belgrade, Coventry (1958); the Nottingham Playhouse (1963); the Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford (1965); the Thorndike, Leatherhead (1969); the Crucible, Sheffield (1971); and the Barbican, London (1968-1982). Chapter Two argues that a self-consciously ‘modern’ architecture was deployed in order to express the desire for these theatres to reflect new ideas of their conception and purpose. Chapter Three examines the attempts in this period to escape the established proscenium-arch auditorium in the interests of modernity and as a way of responding to film and television. Chapter Four recognises that theatres with proscenium-arch and similar auditoria nonetheless continued to be built. It explores why this was the case. Chapter Five considers two theatres created in converted spaces: the Tricycle, Kilburn (1980) and the Almeida, Islington (1984), discussing how their architecture asserted itself to make a deliberate contribution to the theatregoing and performance experiences. In Chapter Six, the example of the Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield, (reopened in 1990) acts as a lens through which to consider the late-twentieth century trend to restore Victorian and Edwardian theatres.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available