B1: Amateur Theatre in Smaller European Countries

Original description: How does amateur theatre function in smaller European countries? How do they react on challenges in their environment? The amateur theatre working group of the international research group STEP (Project on European theatre systems) presents the start of a new research project. For the project three Frisian amateur theatre companies have been asked to create theatrical presentations in response to the challenges amateur theater faces. These presentations will serve as input for further exploration of and discussion on the research project. Goal of this dialogue session is to present and discuss the possibilities and impossibilities of international comparative research about the functioning of theatre and ways to increase the relevance of this kind of research for the field.  

Chair: Antine Zijlstra (NHL Stenden University, the Netherlands). Speakers: Anneli Saro (University of Tartu, Estonia), Margarite Smit (NHL Stenden University), Luuk Eisema (Keunstwurk), and students of the NHL Stenden University.

Results / lessons learned

1. To be able to conduct and compare research (internationally) the term 'amateur' needs to be (re)defined. Having a degree and/or making money on a regular basis are ingredients of the definition,  but are not sufficient. The definition should also include the specific way of thinking, function, value  and audience of amateur theatre.  

2. Possible research questions, subjects and methods:

  • Why do people participate (e.g. pleasure, feeling of community)? What are the merits of participating for people? (e.g. healthy communities, increased happiness)? 
  • What structures does amateur theatre need to florish? What is the significance of amateur theatre in the local environment? (e.g. provides a sense of community, halts rural exodus)
  • Facilitation of production: collaboration and discussions with professionals, awards for amateur theatre
  • Methods: ethnographic research and oral history