Punishing the Outsiders: Theatre Workshop and the Arts Council

Burt, Philippa. 2014. Punishing the Outsiders: Theatre Workshop and the Arts Council. Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, 5(2), pp. 119-130. ISSN 1944-3927 [Article]

[img] Text
Burt Punishing the Outsiders Littlewood and the Arts Council, TDPT 2014.doc - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

Download (110kB)

Abstract or Description

Numerous analyses have documented the Arts Council's refusal to provide Theatre Workshop with an adequate subsidy, which, among other things, forced the company to abandon its revolutionary training programme. However, few have examined the reasons for its behaviour. This article calls for a re-evaluation of the Council's treatment of the company by analysing it through the lens of Bourdieusian sociology. It argues that the Council withheld money as a way of punishing the group for its countercultural practices and for developing a method of training actors that attacked the conventions of the British theatre in the 1940s and 1950s. Furthermore, this article cross-references the Arts Council's files with records of MI5's systematic surveillance of the company for the first time to identify the political motivations that also contributed to this behaviour. In both instances, it reveals a concentrated effort against Littlewood and her training programme that led ultimately to the exclusion of Theatre Workshop from the British theatre.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Theatre and Performance (TAP)



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

25 Jan 2016 15:56

Last Modified:

15 Dec 2017 13:35

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)