Shared Stories and Communal Meaning: The National Theatre of Scotland’s Black Watch

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What makes a piece of theatre succeed on the international stage? This paper will explore the concept of "communal meaning" by applying theories on the value and impact of the arts to one of the most internationally successful pieces of theatre of the decade: the National Theatre of Scotland's Black Watch.

The paper will analyse the relative merits and challenges of benefits-based programming and map Black Watch against the Benefits of the Arts Framework proposed by RAND (2004) to assess the practical utility of the framework.

By applying the theories of international arts theorists and consultants including Alan Brown, Jennifer Novak, François Matarasso and John Holden to a contemporary case study, the paper will seek to determine the intrinsic benefits of an internationally successful piece of theatre from the audience’s perspective. Through a textual analysis of audience members’ responses to Black Watch, the paper will test existing theories on the value and impact of the arts; and by reviewing theories of cultural globalisation and transnationalism, it will aim to identify the secret of the play’s success on the international stage.


Keywords: Theatre & the Performing Arts, International Festivals, Communal Meaning, Intrinsic Benefits of the Arts, Value & Impact Analysis
Stream: Arts Theory and Criticism
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Ben Walmsley

Senior Lecturer, Leslie Silver International Faculty, Leeds Metropolitan University
Leeds, UK

Ben is an academic and an experienced researcher and theatre producer. In 2000, he completed a PhD in French Theatre and Philosophy at the University of Glasgow, comparing the plays of Jean-Paul Sartre and Eugène Ionesco. In 1997, he directed Ionesco’s La Cantatrice Chauve as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, before moving to Paris, where he taught at the Sorbonne. He managed One World Actors Productions in Paris for two years and then moved back to Scotland to manage the leading Scottish touring company Benchtours, before taking up a managerial post at the new National Theatre of Scotland. Ben is a modern languages graduate from Nottingham University and holds an MBA from the University of Surrey’s School of Management. He was recently appointed as a Senior Lecturer in Entertainment Management at Leeds Metropolitan University.

Ref: A09P0614