British theatre is booming. But where do these beautiful buildings and exciting plays come from? And when did the story start? To find out we time travel back to the age of the first Queen Elizabeth in the sixteenth century, four hundred years ago when there was not a single theatre in the land. In the company of a series of well-characterised fictional guides, the eight chapters of the book explore how British theatre began, grew up and developed from the 1550s to the 1950s.
The Time Traveller's Guide to British Theatre tells the story of the movers and shakers, the buildings, the playwrights, the plays and the audiences that make British theatre what it is today. It covers all the great names — from Shakespeare to Terence Rattigan, by way of Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw — and the classic plays, many of which are still revived today, visits the venues and tells their dramatic stories. It is an accessible, journalistic account of this subject which, while based firmly on extensive research and historical accuracy, describes five centuries of British creativity in an interesting and relevant way. It is celebratory in tone, journalistic in style and accurate in content.
Aleks Sierz is an author, broadcaster and journalist whose books include In-Yer-Face Theatre (Faber 2001) and Rewriting the Nation (Methuen Drama 2011).
Lia Ghilardi is a cultural geographer who advises internationally on urban policies and place branding, and who has written extensively on cultural planning and artistic bohemia.