This book offers a concise history of popular theatre since the early twentieth century. Using key popular culture theories and critical perspectives, Jason Price analyses popular theatres across different cultural and political contexts, drawing on a diverse range of international artists and theatre-makers who have worked with popular forms, including Vsevolod Meyerhold, Blue Blouse, Bertolt Brecht, Erwin Piscator, the San Francisco Mime Troupe, the Bread and Puppet Theatre and more.
As well as defining what 'popular' means in relation to performance and the audiences who watch it, the book considers some of the political frameworks and causes that popular theatre has been placed in service of, such as socialism, the New Left and the gay rights movement. It also addresses the uses of cabaret, puppetry and circus outside their native popular contexts, examining the role they play in avant-garde and experimental theatre practices. In doing so, Price encourages readers to look beyond popular theatre as a simple form of entertainment and to consider its potential as a form of political activism, as a community-builder, and as a valuable tool for artistic experimentation.