Building the engine room: a study of the Royal Court Young Peoples’ Theatre and its development into the Young Writers’ Programme

Holden, Nicholas Oliver (2018) Building the engine room: a study of the Royal Court Young Peoples’ Theatre and its development into the Young Writers’ Programme. PhD thesis, University of Lincoln.

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Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
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Abstract

The Royal Court Theatre has forged its reputation on its ability to source and produce some of the most important new plays of the last sixty years. Its long-standing identity as a ‘writers’ theatre’ has cemented the Court’s allure to playwrights from across the world. Indeed, it is due to the theatre’s, at times, contentious history and continuous dedication to the playwright that the Court has also received substantial academic attention, which has resulted in extensive scholarship and interrogation of the theatre’s work. However, very little consideration has been given to the Royal Court Young Peoples’ Theatre and it is through engagement with this initiative and its development into the Young Writers’ Programme that this thesis provides a long-overdue assessment of this overlooked strand of the Court’s work.
This thesis presents an original account of the Royal Court’s history from the perspective of its work with young people and playwrights. Primary sources of material for this thesis are shared between information gathered from the archive of the Royal Court, housed within the Victoria and Albert Museum’s collections at Blythe House, and interviews conducted by the author with key figures from this part of the Royal Court Theatre’s work. This material is located alongside the changing contexts of education, politics, the Royal Court and British theatre more widely, between 1966 and 2007, and looks to assess how each of these areas came to inform and influence the policy of the Young Peoples’ Theatre (YPT).
The thesis proposes that the YPT adopted an unusual and alternative approach to working with young people that was at times both radical in its practice and fiercely political. The nature of its work often saw the Scheme ostracised from both a growing theatre-in-education movement and the Royal Court itself, where its survival is often credited to the tenacity of certain individuals. Indeed, the thesis posits that the YPT, despite its breadth of activity, was most welcomed within the theatre’s eco-system during the periods in its history when it focused its policy on young writers and therefore fed into the Court’s fundamental identity as a writers’ theatre.

Keywords:Modern British Playwriting, British theatre
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W400 Drama
W Creative Arts and Design > W440 Theatre studies
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Performing Arts)
ID Code:31439
Deposited On:27 Mar 2018 15:33

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