“Meanwhile use”: pop-ups, temporary spaces and the politics of scarcity in ‘do-it-yourself’ theatre-making

Butler, Linford (2017) “Meanwhile use”: pop-ups, temporary spaces and the politics of scarcity in ‘do-it-yourself’ theatre-making. In: Theatre and Performance Research Association Postgraduate Symposium, 3 February 2017, University of Leeds.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


This paper considers a ‘do-it-yourself’ politics and practice within contemporary theatre-making, one which “implies (and exploits) more rudimentary, accessible, tools and media, and promotes being more self-reliant” (Daniels, 2014, 11), in order to interrogate how the interplay between temporary performative spaces, artists, collectives and making a “virtue of having less resources” (Barker, 2014) constitutes the “political act of democratising art-making” (Daniels, 2014, 8).

It considers how DIY artists, “working with anything they have in frugal ways as a political and philosophical modus operandi” (Daniels, 2014, 8), have co-developed and enabled pop-up theatres, theatre festivals and other temporary performative spaces, such as Forest Fringe, by applying aesthetic, structural and economic scarcity as a model for producing artwork.

It evaluates how temporary artistic communities catalyse the development of work “born of a place and community, and which offers a distinct alternative to the monoculture that thrives on top-down structures” (Nicklin, 2012), and how scarcity becomes a mode of political expression, a “political act [...] that circumvents the normal restrictions and structures of theatre” (Gardner, 2014).

It finally mediates on how such spaces “embrace the temporary, the irrationally unsustainable” (Field, in Gaughan, 2015) in pursuing “radically independent and politically driven” (Daniels, 2014, 7) alternative modes of artistic expression, and how “in times of financial hardship or when buildings and programmers act more like gatekeepers than midwives” (Gardner, 2014), DIY politics and practice can challenge the establishments and which prevent cultural diversity and accessibility by embracing risk, temporariness and unsustainability.

Keywords:Theatre, drama, performance, DIY, do-it-yourself, devising, contemporary theatre, contemporary performance practice, pop-up theatre, temporary theatre, Performance spaces, theatres, political theatre, political theatre-making
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W440 Theatre studies
W Creative Arts and Design > W400 Drama
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Performing Arts)
ID Code:26637
Deposited On:09 Mar 2017 16:37

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