From its earliest days the University of Bradford has been committed to developing arts on campus, thanks to our first Vice-Chancellor Ted Edwards, who wanted to enrich the University experience for students, staff and the wider community. This week’s Object concentrates on drama at the University and its physical location on campus, the Theatre in the Mill.
The University appointed Chris Parr as its first Fellow in Theatre in 1969 (other Fellowships were created in Music, Visual Arts and Issues). The Fellows had considerable scope for innovation, and have worked closely together. Parr championed experimental theatre, such as The End by David Edgar, which used computers and audience interaction to show the imminent danger of nuclear war.
The Theatre in the Mill was opened in 1976 by Alan Ayckbourn, in a converted mill across the amphitheatre from the J.B. Priestley Library. The opening featured an intriguing play by Edgar and the second Fellow, Richard Crane, which “portrayed the hidden side of the establishment of the University, and depicting, not always in the most kindly way, some of the leading personalities involved …” (Robert McKinlay). We have the script in Special Collections …
However, the Theatre in the Mill is more than a building; it is about outreach and work in all kinds of spaces. The Theatre has a proud and ongoing tradition of engaging with different voices and encouraging new talent.
To quote from the blog of Iain Bloomfield, artistic director of the Theatre,
“The theatre provision at the University of Bradford has always been a radical and inclusive one that had at its centre an understanding of the civic responsibilities of artists. We helped facilitate the shift from T&A journalist to leading playwright for David Edgar, we supported Howard Brenton stage work in the city ice-rink, more recently we supported Alan Lane to make an amazing piece over a bank holiday weekend in the Moghul Gardens in Lister Park. This radicalism laid a bedrock of adventure and achievement”.
Find out more about current performances, people and plans on the Theatre’s website.