Thursday, 19 December 2013
Theatre expert, Professor Claire Cochrane, delivered her Inaugural Professorial Lecture at the University of Worcester last month, considering how an historical perspective on regional theatre might help it develop more fully in the future.
Professor Cochrane, who delivered her lecture - ‘Standing in a Different Place: Regional Theatre and the Making of History’ – to University Fellows, academic staff, students, family and friends, has taught and directed theatre performance in Worcester since 1992, when she was appointed to a lectureship at what was then Worcester College of Higher Education.
Now Professor of Theatre Studies at the University of Worcester, her most recent book is a social and economic history of twentieth-century British theatre. She has also published widely on Shakespeare in performance, and her published research on the cultural value of amateur theatre for participants and audiences has proved to be internationally influential.
As the author of two books on the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, she has extensive knowledge of regional theatre and has recently acted as historical advisor on Birmingham Rep’s centenary celebrations.
Professor Cochrane’s lecture focused on the fact that the best known British theatre history has been traditionally assembled from records associated with the richness of London theatre, meaning that much of the theatre experienced by the majority of the British population has been consigned to oblivion.
She explains: “I wanted to explore the reasons for the historic imbalance of theatre provision and resources between London and the rest of the UK, illustrating my talk with reference to the long-gone Worcester Theatre Royal and its relevance within the overall structure of British theatre.
“I was able to show photographs of me standing on the site of the old theatre, and in front of the Swan Theatre which continues to survive within the current difficult economic circumstances.
“A key aspect of the lecture was the emphasis on the responsibility which historians have towards the lived experience of the past in order to better understand the present and look forward to a more hopeful future.”
She adds: “I’d like to thank everyone involved in support and organisation of the event, particularly Professor David Green, Professor Ros Foskett and my Head of Institute, Professor Antonia Payne, who delivered the preliminary citation.”