'Playgrounds that would never happen now because they’d be far too dangerous': Risk, Childhood Development and Radical Sites of Theatre Practice

Grant Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article revisits radical playgrounds of the past to offer a productive dialogue with recent debates on how child environments can foster citizenship and community. Joan Littlewood’s playground projects are familiar examples of theatre techniques being applied to develop children’s sense of belonging in a city. This essay considers the less familiar history of the Natural Theatre Company’s Adventure Playground in Bath, an ambivalent site of chaotic transgression and community formation. Referencing the theories of Henri Lefebvre and Guy Debord, the essay explores how theatre techniques of subversive role playing, carnivalesque abandon and Do-It-Yourself (DIY) (de)construction can refigure notions of citizenship and community. With this article, I hope to trouble contemporary notions of safety by highlighting the restrictions placed on today’s playgrounds and questioning whether forms of childhood development once valued can exist within the limitations of our modern ‘risk society’.
Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch in Drama Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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