Natural Theatre Company (Bath)

Grant Tyler Peterson

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Britain’s longest-running street theatre company, Bath’s Natural Theatre Company (NTC), receives little attention in historical accounts of alternative theatre. Comprised of artists from diverse backgrounds including connections to the London Arts Lab and Welfare State, the NTC formed in 1970 and can trace its political and artistic heritage back to counter-cultural movements of the late 1960s. However, as the company matured in the 1970s and 1980s, its performance repertoire shifted from anti-commercial interventions of civic space to endeavours which increasingly sought economic security through government funding, commercial revenue and international tours (often commissioned by the British Council). The trajectory of the NTC from an essentially radical group of anti-establishment artists to a streamlined financial operation both confirms and unsettles traditional histories and categories of British alternative theatre.

This paper addresses how a history of the NTC not only offers a bellwether to understanding key shifts in British street theatre but also raises important historiographical concerns about British alternative theatre historiography. The absence of the NTC from historical accounts speaks to the manner in which the NTC’s ambivalent repertoire and history comes into tension with categories often used to distinguish British alternative theatre: agit-prop versus avant-garde, indoor versus outdoor, text-based versus non-text based, funded versus commercial, and urban versus rural. By placing the NTC’s story within larger debates, this paper highlights the limitations of past scholarship while examining new ways of understanding the lasting legacies of British alternative theatre.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2011
EventAmerican Society for Theater Research - Montreal, Canada
Duration: 16 Nov 2011 → …


ConferenceAmerican Society for Theater Research
Period16/11/11 → …

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