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A Working-Class Theatre: Anecdote and the Amateur Aesthetic in Live Theatre Newcastle’s Live: Witness (2013)

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Rosalind Haslett



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Taylor and Francis, 2019.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


This article undertakes a close analysis of Live: Witness (2013), a performance piece about the history of Live Theatre, Newcastle, which was created from anecdote and reminiscence. Live Theatre began as a working-class theatre collective, but is now a building-based organisation, occupying a purpose-built theatre on Newcastle’s culturally regenerated quayside. I argue that Live: Witness represents an attempt to explore the working class origins of the organisation by means of anecdote, comedy and the performance of amateurism, all of which have been important strategies used by Live Theatre in order to establish a relationship with a local, working-class audience. Even as they work to idealise the past, the haunted qualities of these anecdotes, and the foregrounding of the new theatre building, remind us of how much Live Theatre has changed over the course of its history. But Live: Witness is more than just an anxious recuperation of the past. By working to address and even integrate the experience of a ‘new working class’ who work on flexible and part-time contracts to service the theatre building, the performance also invites an exploration of broader shifts in UK conceptions of social class in the twenty-first century.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Haslett RE

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Contemporary Theatre Review

Year: 2019

Volume: 29

Issue: 3

Pages: 275-289

Online publication date: 18/11/2019

Acceptance date: 11/02/2019

Date deposited: 15/02/2019

ISSN (print): 1048-6801

ISSN (electronic): 1477-2264

Publisher: Taylor and Francis


DOI: 10.1080/10486801.2019.1615905


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