A quiet cultural revolution: The amateur theatre movement in Ireland, 1952-1980
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This dissertation outlines the origins, contours, and impact of the amateur theatre movement in Ireland from the foundation of the All-Ireland and Ulster Drama Festivals in 1953 to the establishment of Field Day Theatre Company in Derry in 1980. It presents an analysis of the role and influence of the amateur theatre movement in Irish theatre and society. This study adopts a materialist theoretical framework in order to show that amateur theatre was a means through which communities across Ireland initiated, and in many cases resisted, the effects of a period of significant modernization and social change. Furthermore, the influence of the amateur theatre movement on Irish theatre is presented primarily in terms of the way that it shaped the contrasting qualities of amateurism and professionalism in theatre practice during a period in which a growing number of occupations and leisure pursuits were professionalised. This study adds to our existing knowledge of Irish theatre and society in two ways. Firstly, it provides a more detailed and much-needed account of the efflorescence of amateur theatre that occurred in Ireland in the middle decades of the twentieth-century. Secondly, it adds to our understanding of the mutually-defining qualities of amateurism and professionalism: qualities that are shown to be a central component of how amateur and professional works of art are received by the public.
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