In the late 1960s and early 1970s, protest theatre exploded throughout the western world as young theatre-workers sought alliances with the labour movement. But with the erosion of trade union power and class-based politics, most of these partnerships, and the assumptions underpinning them, broke down. The politically-engaged theatre workers who endured were forced into new, more flexible ways of operating; forming what authors Alan Filewod and David Watt describe as 'strategic ventures'. This book concentrates on four strategic ventures in three countries, each with a distinctive story: the entrepreneurial focus of Ground Zero Productions in Canada, the 'Actuality' technique developed by Britain's Banner Theatre and, in Australia, the early shop floor work of Melbourne Workers Theatre and the broad community participation in Darwin's union-sponsored May Day parades. The book analyses why these ventures succeeded and what they learnt along the way. The authors conclude by drawing these experiences together to sketch the broad trajectory of an influential movement often overlooked by theatre scholars.
The book provides a fascinating window into how socially engaged theatre artists can meet the challenges of survival and resistance in an increasingly corporatised world.
Alan Filewod and David Watt