The Reluctant Escapologist: Adventures in Alternative Theatre


ISBN: 9781854595386
Author: By Mike Bradwell
Publication Date: 8/07/2010
Publisher: Nick Hern Books
Extent: 336pp.
Availability: Available


An unrivalled unofficial history of the rise – and partial fall – of fringe theatre, Mike Bradwell’s deadpan account of his adventures is one of the funniest and angriest books to come out of theatre today. Winner of the 2010 Theatre Book Prize awarded by the Society for Theatre Research.

As he travels through a counterculture peopled by nutters, chancers, dreamers and prophets, Bradwell makes us marvel at his resilience and creativity, captured in a succession of vivid – and often laugh-out- loud – episodes such as: creating a character with Mike Leigh; enjoying the onstage mass orgasms of The Living Theatre; eating fire with Bob Hoskins; becoming an underwater escapologist (reluctantly) in the Ken Campbell Roadshow; creating Hull Truck; and doing battle with the Health and Safety brigade, the funding bodies and a Polish heavy-metal disco during his ten years running the famous Bush Theatre in West London.

Bradwell is a passionate champion of the alternative as well as an admired and successful director. He makes a compelling – and urgent – case for preserving the true and subversive spirit of theatre from castration at the hands of bankers, consultants, stakeholders, cultural-diversity compliance monitors and the Arts Council. 

‘Towards the end of this brilliant account of his epic forty-year journey, Mike tells us, ‘I don’t believe that theatre is safe in the hands of grown-ups’, and it is his healthy, eternal youthfulness that makes the book so inspiring’ Mike Leigh, from his Foreword

‘Inimitably filthy, achingly funny… Bradwell is one of the most colourful figures in theatre today’
The Stage

‘Both a history and a pointer to the future of theatre, written by one of its most courageous and effective champions’
Theatres Magazine

‘Funny and rude, bloody-minded and undervalued, much like the theatre to which he has given his all’
Times Literary Supplement

Winner of the Theatre Book Prize

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