Welcome to the website of our two research projects, the first fully funded academic studies of amateur theatre in the UK.



Amateur Dramatics and the Navy: theatre inside, outside and across ‘the wire’.

This Case Study focuses on the historical and contemporary role of amateur drama in the Royal Navy. Amateur dramatics are supported by the navy as part of a nexus of activities targeted at leisure time that are designed to promote health and well being; combat isolation through sociability and community building; enhance core skills; promote public engagement and contribute to a distinct naval culture and heritage that is celebrated, valued and passed down from generation to generation.

The historical aspect of the Case Study will focus on the development and endurance of the SODS Opera, as well as numerous performance-based rituals, that take place at sea. It will investigate how they have became a valuable part of naval culture and how they have changed over time in response to the evolving patterns of naval engagement, the shifting demographics of serving personnel, social change and specific military campaigns.

The contemporary aspect of the Case Study has been developed with the Royal Navy Theatre Association (RNTA). The RNTA supports a thriving programme of theatre activity encompassing: workshops and training; productions ranging from pantomimes to Shakespeare and new writing; and an annual festival and awards ceremony. Membership of the RNTA encompasses a broad geographical reach from Cornwall to Gibraltar, however this research will focus on and around the naval town of Portsmouth where there are several active drama groups including the Sultan Theatre Group based on the Sultan Naval base in Gosport; the Admirals' Players based at HMS Excellent and Collingwood RSC based at HMS Collingwood who all make theatre with and for serving personnel, MOD civil servants, their friends, family and local community.

This aspect of the Case Study will explore how amateur drama benefits individuals, naval bases, the Royal Navy and local communities through an examination of the processes and products of time spent making theatre. It will consider how time is spent and why? It will address questions around craft, repertoire, reception, competition, the places of performance and the contribution on amateur drama to naval heritage and tradition.

Researchers for this Case Study are Nadine Holdsworth (n.holdsworth@warwick.ac.uk ) and Sarah Penny (s.penny@warwick.ac.uk)