The Sociable Aesthetics of Amateur Theatre

Erin Walcon, Helen Nicholson

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This article explores the balance of sociability within three amateur theatre groups, each with different working artistic processes and diverse aesthetic repertoires. These amateur groups enable participants to assume fictional identities within sociable encounters, a site for playing a fictional role in the company of friends. Drawing on Georg Simmel’s analysis of sociability, and Bourdieu’s ideas of social capital, this article considers sociable encounters as cultural practices that are integral to aesthetic engagement with the specific qualities of making theatre. Not only are participants engaging in regular imaginative play, where they can try on new voices, selves, and roles, but they are also constantly finding a valued and valuable ‘relational self’ through the shifting social sands of the amateur group, forming new bonds and friendships and solidifying older ones. This article postulates that this does meaningful work within the lives of the participants – both in terms of social capital but also in creating an affective space for individual agency.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-33
Number of pages16
JournalContemporary Theatre Review
Issue number1
Early online date12 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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