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Contemporary playwriting: The Royal Court Theatre and international theatre outreach

Award Information

AHRC ref: AH/J012513/1
Discipline: Drama and Theatre Studies
Funding opportunity: Research Grant
Areas of Impact: Communities, Investment in people, Knowledge Exchange
Lead RO: University of Lincoln
Region: East Midlands

Over the last fifteen years, the Royal Court Theatre has reached out to develop playwriting in a diverse range of countries and regions throughout the globe.

Timely research has had an impact on the UK theatre industry’s understanding of its international influence while promoting a vibrant culture of international new playwriting domestically and continuing to encourage thriving playwriting cultures in communities abroad.

The main underpinning research was undertaken by Professor Mark O’Thomas, University of Lincoln, in collaboration with Elaine Aston, University of Lancaster, in an AHRC-funded research project: ‘Creating Cultural Exchange and Change: The Royal Court Theatre's International Department’.

The research has had a direct impact on the Royal Court Theatre with regards to the theatre’s approach to international relations as well as the development of original playwriting. Also, through its wider influence on practitioners and audiences it has contributed to a more diverse cultural landscape.

The findings were presented in part at a Royal Court Theatre seminar entitled ‘Developing Playwriting Abroad: Translating Cultures and the work of the International Department’ which provided an ideal conduit for knowledge exchange. It also demonstrated how Higher Education Institutions can bridge the gap between theatres and practitioners in the exchange of ideas. Finally, the seminar provided an effective forum for collaborations that could progress well into the future. Meetings with relevant parties in Morocco, Brazil and Chile led to further engagement with local playwrights. The work in these cases was especially useful in outlining the role of theatre in capturing political events and how this comes to be discussed across different languages and cultures.

Knowledge has been further disseminated by the publication of ‘Royal Court: International’ which was co-authored by O’Thomas and Aston. This follows in detail the theatre’s innovative process for developing international projects throughout the world as well as the resulting programmes of global plays and seasons. This has given insight into the Royal Court’s international success that enriches the available material on international development in the theatre industry.

Gateway to Research Project Links: Creating Cultural Exchange and Change: The Royal Court Theatre's International Department, Feb 2012-Aug 2012.

Associated image: Elliot Brown on Flickr by CC 2.0