Joan Littlewood: collaboration and vision

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter reassesses the work of Joan Littlewood and Theatre Workshop from the 1950s to the 1970s. It finds that, in many instances, Littlewood’s visionary approach to collaborative devising and her innovative borrowing from a breadth of theatrical traditions broadened the scope of the British musical as a vehicle for social engagement, with a legacy that is both tangible and vital as part of the history of twentieth-century musical theatre. Yet, the chapter argues that in many ways, at the root of Littlewood’s approach was an often contradictory world view: at once critical of the Establishment and simultaneously embedded within it. The chapter concludes by arguing that this paradoxical approach is what makes Littlewood’s work so innovative and, ultimately, so typically British.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Handbook of the British Musical
EditorsRobert Gordon, Olaf Jubin
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)978-0199988747
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2017


  • Joan Littlewood
  • Theatre Workshop
  • British musical theatre
  • agit-prop theatre
  • Oh! What A Lovely War
  • carnivalesque
  • collaboration


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