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

Geographies of Amateur Creativity

The project was well represented at the Royal Geographic Sociey's Annual Conferences in 2014 and 2015.  In 2015, Cara Gray curated two panel sessions on the geographies of amateur creativity with Katie Boxall.

The sessions invited conversation on the geographies of amateur creativity through a focus on the processes, spaces, and experiences of their ‘doings’ (Hawkins, 2011, 2014). Geography has witnessed a growing prevalence of literature on creativity, including art world professionals and creative economies (Currid, 2007; Daniels, 1993) whilst unpacking ‘other’ creativities from local experimentalisms (Gibson-Graham, 2008) to intricacies of vernacular and everyday creativities (Edendsor et al, 2009; Yarwood, 2010). Our session encourages discussion into a different register, being the amateur and amateur creativity; feeding into to cross-disciplinary discussions on social productions of “pro-amateurs” (Leadbeater and Miller. 2004). The intentions of this session are to query stereotypes of amateurism, offer amateur creativity as practicing communities of creative habit and explore experiential worlds of organic creative participation. We are interested in foregrounding cultures of enthusiasm (Geoghegan, 2009) and voicing the pursuit of leisure (Stebbins, 2002), to display the processes of amateur creativities (Brace and Putra-Jones, 2010) and spaces of amateur making (Bain, 2004, Sjöholm, 2012).

We are concerned with the place of historical writings and research about the amateur and what it might mean to become professional. This session proposes to extend DeLyer’s (2014) discussion on a ‘participatory historical geography’ through the creative capacity of the amateur figure and how historic communities of creative enthusiasts could fuel such discussion. Situating the amateur and amateur creativity within the wider enthusiast community, Geoghegan has offered enthusiast communities to be “central to ensuring the continued value and vibrancy of historical geography in the twenty-first century” (2014. 1). As part of the session, we seek to unpack underrepresented stories of amateur creative practice to vocalize the “unofficial endeavours and voices of those often neglected in the history of exploration” (Brickell and Garrett. 2013. 7), whilst thinking about geographers as themselves, amateur creative practitioners (Hawkins, 2014).


Helen Nicholson gave a paper on the Haunted Spaces of Amateur Theatre: Immateriality, Materiality and Performative Memories

Theatres are famously haunted spaces, and performance is notoriously ephemeral. Gathering the histories and cultural memories of amateur theatre uncovers intimate stories of friendship, desire, joy and grief, crafted and curated in the fabric of theatre buildings, in the back-stages of village halls, and in the memorabilia saved at home. Histories of amateur dramatic companies are thinly disguised love-letters to lost sweethearts, and the material objects of theatre – the props, costumes, programmes and posters - carry symbolic weight, not only documenting the performance event but also the emotional geographies of amateur theatre-makers.