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A list of resources useful for beginning to think about a theatre commons


This is the final of 4 blog posts on the theatre commons, written by Jenny Hughes. This one is a list of resources …


Commons on the net

David Bollier’s blog

The Commoner

On the Commons

Howlaround – a commons by and for people who make performance

International Association for the Study of the Commons


Commons in theatre and performance studies, visual arts, cultural practice, cultural studies

Community arts unwrapped

Tim Edensor, Deborah Leslie, Steve Millington and Norma Rantisi (eds) Spaces of vernacular creativity: rethinking the cultural economy, London: Routledge, 2009

Jerzy Grotowski Towards a poor theatre, London: Methuen, 1969 edition

Andrew Herscher The Unreal Estate Guide to Detroit, Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2012)

Lewis Hyde Common as air: revolution, art and ownership, London: Union Books, 2012 edition (this book is a great place to start, beautifully written and accessible without oversimplifying)

Nato Thompson Living as form: socially engaged art from 1991 – 2011, New York: Creative Time, 2012 (lots of fantastic examples here)

Understanding Everyday Participation research project

There’s a huge literature on theatre and community that would help develop a theatre commons and commoning in theatre – Petra Kuppers (ed) The community performance reader, (London: Routledge, 2007) is a great place to start.

For a recent and very enriching critical intervention relevant to theatre commons and theatre commoning, see Nicolas Ridout Passionate Amateurs: theatre, communism and love (The University of Michigan Press, 2013).


Commons in history and theory

David Bollier Think like a commoner: A short introduction to the life of the commons, Gabriola Island, Canada: New Society Publishers, 2014

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri Commonwealth, Cambridge Massachusetts and London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press

Peter Linebaugh Stop thief! The commons, enclosures and resistance, Oakland: PM Press, 2014

Peter Linebaugh The Magna Carta Manifesto: Liberties and commons for all, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008

Karl Polanyi The Great Transformation: the political and economic origins of our time, Boston: Beacon Press, 2001 [1944]

Paolo Virno A grammar of the multitude, Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2004

Jay Walljasper All that we share: a field guide to the commons, New York and London: The New Press, 2010

Nick Dyer-Witheford ‘Commonism’ Turbulence 1 (2008). Available from http://turbulence.org.uk/turbulence-1/commonism/


Examples of theatre commons

A few examples of theatre commons and commons theatricality, past and present:

Penny gaffes

Street theatre

Carnival against capitalism

Theatre of the oppressed

Travelling players

Fun Palaces – past and present

The workers’ theatre movement

Publicly subsidised theatre

Amateur theatre

Non-profit theatre

Community theatre

Activist theatre

Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth

Play readings of Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth on Paternoster Square during Occupy London (I learnt about this from my colleague Rachel Clements, thanks @rachclements)

Street parties

Fancy dress parties

Fireworks nights

Process drama

Local talent nights

End of year primary school plays

Extracurricular theatres in schools

Some kinds of youth theatre

Salford Arts Theatre

Odin Teatret and the Third theatre

Magdalena Project

Cheap seats nights

Rimini Protokoll’s experts of the everyday

Brecht’s street scene

Revue nights

Charity nights

Nottingham Playhouse’s ‘Mass Bolero’ (watch it via the link – beautiful! – only 7 minutes)

Local pantomime

Punch and Judy shows

Carol singers

Community choirs

Drama clubs in homeless centres

Cultural activities of the settlement movement

Sunday school drama

Tribute acts

Scratch performances

Open mic nights

DIY theatre and DIY theatre networks

Pub theatre


Collaborations between artists and scientists for and about the common

Some forms of documentary performance

Ensemble theatre

Free theatre

Theatre in the park

Prison players

The early rounds of the FA cup


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