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The "theatre-in-museum" movement in the British Isles

By Christopher Martin Ford


Throughout the 1980's and early 1990's, it became increasingly apparent to interested observers that there was a growing trend towards using theatre in museum settings. The work was varied, ranging from single costumed characters working on galleries to help interpret for visitors items in the collection, to literally hundreds of re-enactors creating entire battle scenarios watched by thousands of visitors.\ud \ud This study considers the ideas and methods behind the various styles of theatre which have emerged in British museums and questions what it is that both theatre and\ud museum professions think they will achieve by enlivening the traditionally silent enclaves of our museums in such a way.\ud \ud The study proposes that we are, in fact, witnessing the emergence of a new form of educational theatre which is context-specific and which embraces the needs of museums and their visitors rather than being concerned solely with theatre as an art form. 'Theatre-in-museum', as it has become known, is a synthesis of theatre as a learning medium and the educational and cultural mission of museums. This kind of theatre echoes, to some extent, aspects of other educational theatre movements including those\ud associated with Brecht, Littlewood, Cheeseman, Heathcote,\ud and Boal. Like many movements,'theatre-in-museum' as emerged out of a period of rapid change and instability, this time in the shifting world of museums which are\ud themselves re-defining their role at the end of the twentieth century.\ud \ud Chapter One presents a thesis about' theatre-in-museum and will include: \ud \ud an analysis of contemporary museology; \ud \ud an analysis of the characteristics of 'theatre-in-museum' as a theatreform; \ud \ud and,\ud the results of a national research project aimed at establishing the extent to which theatre is used in contemporary museums.\ud \ud Chapters Two to Six will feature five case studies explaining contemporary practice in this field. The critical attributes of five styles of theatre-in-museum will be explored along with the principal aims and methodologies associated with each one. \ud \ud A concluding chapter will consider the current state of 'theatre-in-museum' and will propose further action if the work is to flourish in future years.\u

Publisher: School of English (Leeds)
Year: 1998
OAI identifier:

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