Five Questions: Judith Hawley on Amateur Theatricals

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Judith Hawley is Professor of English at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her doctoral work at Oxford was on Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, which remains one of her major interests, but she has also published widely on science and literature, eighteenth-century women writers, and coteries, groups and sociability. Her current projects include a group biography of the Scriblerus Club and a new edition of Tristram Shandy. In this interview, though, we discuss her ongoing collaborative work on amateur theatricals: approaches and publications; the series of conferences organised under the ‘What Signifies A Theatre?’ rubric; and the new Research into Amateur Performance and Private Theatricals network, which she co-directs with Mary Isbell.

1) How did you first become interested in amateur performance and private theatricals?

My interest came initially from personal experience. As a teenager and then as a student at Cambridge, I was very involved in amateur dramatics as a performer, director and producer. As well as the opportunities to explore different selves, I loved the collaborative aspect of theatre making. As an undergraduate writing an essay a week, …read more