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ERIC Number: EJ895192
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Aug
Pages: 9
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1356-9783
John McGrath Interview: Contact Theatre, Buildings and Young People's Participation
Thompson, James; Low, Katharine
Research in Drama Education, v15 n3 p403-411 Aug 2010
Contact Theatre is an Arts Council of England-funded theatre on the campus of the University of Manchester, in the north of England. From its re-opening in 1999 until the end of 2008, it was led by Artistic Director John McGrath who created a programme of theatre performances and projects specifically geared to young people (between the ages of 13 and 30). The company is independent of the University but has developed a dialogue with staff and students over many years. While this used to consist of regular performance projects by undergraduate drama students, this is now a more complex set of interactions between student artists, students from a range of disciplines and academic researchers/practitioners. The young people that participate at all levels of the theatre, however, are by no means only linked to the university and are more likely to come from the diverse communities across the city. Traditionally in applied or community-based performance there has been interest in working outside theatre buildings and perhaps even a suspicion of the institutional restrictions assumed to be inherent in theatre venues. McGrath's stewardship of Contact Theatre provides an important challenge to this suspicion and suggests, in fact, that it signals a failure to realise the potential of "bricks and mortar". He asks--both through his programming and in the interview presented in this article--how young people can be at the centre of a theatre and performance-making process in a way that benefits from the physical space offered by a venue. He has sought out processes that engage artists with all elements of the Contact Theatre building, all its users and the different spaces within it. This article presents edited sections of an interview with McGrath conducted as part of a seminar held at the University of Manchester in 2008. The interview was arranged to mark McGrath's departure from Contact and offer him an opportunity to reflect on his time in post. The first section explains the origin of Contact Theatre and how their new model of young people's involvement in a building-based company was developed.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (Manchester)