Manuscripts and Special Collections

Weston Gallery Exhibition

Playing Around: Taking Theatre to Communities across the East Midlands  

Dates: Friday 16 January to Sunday 3 May 2015

Admission free

'Playing Around' explores the history of two local theatre companies, New Perspectives Theatre and Nottingham Playhouse's Theatre-in-Education company, Roundabout. Operating in various non-theatre spaces from classrooms to caravans, both companies have sought to make national and international issues 'local' to their audiences and bring theatre 'home' to people across the East Midlands.

Using theatre posters, teachers’ packs, programmes and photographs - together with press reviews and recollections from company members – this exhibition celebrates both companies and their use of theatre to entertain, intrigue, teach and develop different communities over the last 40 years.

Image taken from the poster for 'Walking the Tightrope', depicting a cartoon-style drawing os a girl and her grandfather balancing on a tightrope against an orange sky. 



Their extensive archives have recently been added to The University of Nottingham’s collections and this exhibition provides the first opportunity to see behind the scenes of both companies. ‘Playing Around’ explores their history from small but ambitious beginnings in the 1970s and 1980s, to fulfilling their mission to champion local talent and tour ground-breaking theatre to schools and rural communities in the region and beyond. 

Displays showcasing the place of performance, theatre for children and young people, theatre for rural communities, and building communities will investigate how these very different but equally passionate companies have inspired and moved audiences. Despite the challenges, including their constant battles for funding, both continue to shape the cultural and social life of communities across the East Midlands.

Photograph of the theatre company's van outside a village hall at night.

This exhibition has been jointly curated by Jo Robinson (Associate Professor of Drama and Performance in the School of English) and Manuscripts and Special Collections at The University of Nottingham. 

Location and Opening Times

Weston Gallery
DH Lawrence Pavilion
Lakeside Arts Centre
University Park

Box Office: 0115 8467777

Opening times:

Monday to Friday 11am-4pm Saturday, Sunday and bank holidays 12pm-4pm

Closed Easter Sunday

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Lunchtime Talks

1PM – 2PM



A series of talks will be held to accompany the exhibition. Places are limited so please book in advance with the Box Office on 0115 846 7777

Tuesday 20 January

"It's good for them to be involved!" Participatory Theatre-in-Education

Andrew Breakwell was Director of Roundabout and Education at Nottingham Playhouse 1999–2012. During his time there, he transformed the department so that alongside the traditional tours of curriculum-orientated plays to schools, the Playhouse offered a wide range of participation and learning opportunities that placed theatre at the heart of the community.

Wednesday 25 March

Pride of Place: Theatre in Rural Communities

How many opportunities are presented to us ... if we make our work in the spaces that people already inhabit? This talk by Gavin Stride, former Director of New Perspectives, explores the relationships between place and the making of theatre for rural audiences throughout New Perspectives’ 40-year history. Is theatre made, and received, differently in rural settings where the stage is one end of the village hall or church nave?

Thursday 30 April

Local Acts: Performing Communities

Guest curator Dr Jo Robinson will draw on objects and images from the exhibition, and from the larger archives of both companies, to examine the different ways in which New Perspectives and Roundabout have worked to build communities in the East Midlands through diverse performances and venues from village halls and classrooms, to gypsy caravans and car showrooms.



Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 4565
fax: +44 (0) 115 846 8651
email: mss-library@nottingham.ac.uk