25.1 On Amateurs



Issue editors: David Gilbert, Judith Hawley, Helen Nicholson & Libby Worth

SKU: ISSN: 1352-8165 (2020) 25:1 Category:


The current attempts of theatre makers to increase diversity by including non-professionals in their casts and of social policy makers to promote participation in the arts justify the perception that there is an ‘amateur turn’ in performance practice. Yet this ‘turn’ has not brought about a revolution in attitudes to the amateur. As Sarah Jane Bailes points out, the amateur actor is an ‘often risible and endearing figure to a British public’. And often more risible than anything else. The tension between the commitment with which amateurs pursue their activities and the indifference they meet in professional and academic circles inspired us to champion the very notion of the amateur in this issue. We challenge the notion of the amateur as secondary or second rate. These essays explore the geographies and histories of amateur performance, think through the nature and limits of the idea of the amateur in different cultural contexts and help us to develop a new vocabulary to understand the complexity and nuances of amateur performance. Authors address such subjects as the global reach of amateur performance through new social media, changing work patterns, spaces of performance, amateur participation as political activism and the distinctive aesthetics of amateur performance.



On Amateurs : An introduction and a manifesto
David Gilbert, Judith Hawley, Helen Nicholson, Libby Worth, Libby Worth

An Amateur Manifesto
Clare Daněk

Fancy Dress as an Amateur Craft
Stephen Knott

Not Another Drag Competition : From amateur to professional drag performance
Joe Parslow

‘Never be Dull’ : Girl Guides of Canada performing physical culture and gymnastics drills in 1910–21
Heather Fitzsimmons Frey

High Culture : Presentations of the self in mountain environments
Jonathan Pitches

Amateur Theatre Networks in the Archive
David Coates

Karaoke Instagram : Amateur desire and the performance economy
Kevin Brown

Revealing All : From novice to amateur in the community printmaking workshop
Clare Daněk

Built not Bought : The performance of enthusiast labour and modified VW cars
Will Andrews

The Influence of Intimacy : Amateur performance on new media’s neoliberal stage
Archer Porter

‘At 20p – It Can’t be Bad!’ : The socio-political purpose of Live Theatre Newcastle’s amateur aesthetic, 1973–8
Rosalind Haslett

Dilettante Theatricals : The elite amateur in the Georgian period
Judith Hawley

Amateur Choruses : The professionalization of the choric form
Pierre Katuszewski, Stefan Donath

Foreign Maids and Beauty Queens : Filipina labour and amateur performance in Hong Kong
Jimena Ortuzar

The Repairer and the Ad Hocist : Understanding the ‘ongoingness’ of the amateur theatre maker’s craft
Cara Gray

Being Among Bluebells : Amateurism as a mode of queer futurity at Duckie’s Slaughterhouse Club
Ben Walters

Dancing Swords and Somersaults : Precariousness in amateur traditional dancing
Libby Worth

Seasons of Love : Chinese millennials’ affective amateur musical theatre performances
Laura MacDonald

Amateur Performance and the Labour of Love : or cultural reproduction ‘after’ the collapse of capitalism
Jennifer Beth Spiegel

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