‘The Modern Concept of a Community Theatre’

Alistair Fair

in Modern Playhouses

Published in print March 2018 | ISBN: 9780198807476
Published online April 2018 | e-ISBN: 9780191845406 | DOI:
‘The Modern Concept of a Community Theatre’

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  • Social and Cultural History
  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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This chapter considers the often-expressed idea that Britain’s post-war theatres might become social centres. It begins by discussing the social centre in broad terms before continuing with a close examination of university theatres, in which social ideals were often especially significant. It concludes with the work of the prominent theatre architect Roderick Ham, focusing in particular on the Thorndike Theatre, Leatherhead. These examples together suggest that the idea of the social centre could be interpreted in two distinct but potentially interrelated ways. First, the term referred to a place in which individuals would socialize. At the same time, the social centre could also be related in a more abstract way to ideas about society itself. In effect, theatres could be understood as a kind of secular meeting place, at least for those who actively chose to meet there.

Keywords: theatre; architecture; foyers; social; community; universities; social centre

Chapter.  9837 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural History ; Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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