Spirit of Theatre: New exhibition celebrates the Library Theatre Company

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Spirit of Theatre Exhibition

Quays Bar, The Lowry, Salford

27th September – 12th October 2013

To coincide with the opening of the Library Theatre Company’s autumn season of plays at the Quays Theatre, in the Lowry at Salford Quays, Manchester Metropolitan University present a new exhibition, The Spirit Of Theatre.

The exhibition is linked to the research project of the same name, in which audience members from the Library Theatre share their memories of the Library Theatre Company’s programme since it began in 1952.

Featuring original drawings by artist and MMU PhD student Simon Woolham, the display will be on show in the Quays Bar for the duration of the run of Chris Honer’s production of Educating Rita. 

The Spirit of Theatre is a project run by Manchester Metropolitan University and the British Theatre Consortium, in which researchers, and students of the Department of English interviewed Library Theatre Company audiences, actors and other staff.

More than 100 audience members answered questionnaires investigating how we remember and value theatrical performances. Others took part in creative workshops to invent imaginary spirits or characters that might belong in the Library Theatre’s new home.

The findings reflect the importance audience members attribute to the Library Theatre Company’s role in the cultural life of Manchester and the North West, at a time when the company is on the move.  The Library Theatre is merging with the Cornerhouse to form a new organisation, Greater Manchester Art Centre Ltd., (GMAC), due to move into a brand new venue for the City, ‘Home’, currently under construction at First Street, off Whitworth Street.

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The exhibition also includes highlights of an interview with the architect of the new building, Ernst Ter Horst of Mecanoo.

Julie Wilkinson, playwright, senior lecturer at MMU and leader of the research project has curated the exhibition.

Julie says: “The responses from Library audiences to our questions have been amazing, and we hope to give you a flavour of the range and depth of their answers in our exhibition. Library theatre-goers are thoughtful, critical, enthusiastic and knowledgeable about theatre and the Library Company’s work.

“For many audience members the company’s work links generations in the same family; some audience members saw their very first play at the Library as children or teenagers and enjoy being introduced to new plays and new writers in the company’s programme. They tell us that theatre could not be more important to them.  At a time when many arts organisations are under threat of cuts, our study demonstrates in the audience’s own words the true value of our unique regional artistic culture.’

Our project is still open for contributions from Library Theatre staff and audience members via our interactive website at www.spiritoftheatre.org.


The exhibition is designed by Johnny Clifford.  The research project is managed by Chris Bridgman.  Contributing academics at Manchester Metropolitan University include historians Fiona Cosson and Dr.Faye Simpson; artist Professor John Hyatt; and Dr.Jane Tonge of MMU’s Business School.


The British Theatre Consortium is a small co-operative of Theatre writers and academics based at MMU, Warwick University and Royal Holloway University of London.

More information about BTC and about the Spirit of Theatre project can be found at www.britishtheatreconference.co.uk. 

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