Re-imagining Scotland: Scottish women’s cultural leadership in the theatre sector 2011-2021

Hart, Katie (2023) Re-imagining Scotland: Scottish women’s cultural leadership in the theatre sector 2011-2021. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis investigates women’s cultural leadership in the Scottish theatre sector in the period of 2011-2021. Focusing especially on the 2014 Scottish independence referendum and the 2016 ‘Brexit’ referendum, this work argues that women used theatre as a space to re-imagine Scotland, and that looking at the work they produced in this time can provide fresh insight into both gender and national identity in contemporary Scotland. Taking Benedict Anderson’s theory of the imagined community as a theoretical starting point, this research argues that cultural activity provides women with space to insert themselves into Scotland’s cultural narrative, and in turn shape the imagining of Scotland as a nation. This thesis places existing research into gender and national identity in conversation with thirteen original interviews with female leaders from the Scottish cultural sector. In doing so, it advocates for an intersectional approach to the study of women’s contributions to the Scottish cultural sector which allow for nuance that previous studies have not provided.

I begin with an introduction and literature review, before focusing on the issue of gender inequality within the Scottish cultural sector. In this discussion, I focus on key issues identified by women I interviewed, highlighting how women’s experiences are shaped by their race, class, and age as well as their gender, and that often these different inequalities are interacting and intersecting. This chapter argues that understanding the diversity of experiences amongst different women is crucial to fully comprehending gender inequality. It also problematises the idea that the success of a small group of women who progress to leadership can be seen as evidence of wider progress in terms of gender inequality within the sector. Building on this, the next chapter looks at power dynamics within the networks and communities that comprise the Scottish cultural sector – in particular focusing on how women leaders navigate a theatre industry in which they are simultaneously disadvantaged and in a position of power. The final chapter turns its attention to how women’s creative work can be understood as a form of cultural leadership, and how analysis of that creative work can produce new knowledge of how women are imagining Scotland as a nation. This chapter takes Rona Munro’s The James Plays (2014), Annie George’s The Bridge/Home is Not the Place/Fragments of Home (2014-2017) and Frances Poet’s Adam (2017) as case studies and argues that women used their creative work during the period of 2011-2021 to imagine Scotland as a nation that could be egalitarian and open, whilst also highlighting the ways in which the realities of life in Scotland at that time often did not live up to this imagined potential.

Ultimately, this thesis demonstrates the key role that women are playing in the cultural sector in Scotland, and specifically in the theatre industry. It shows that in a decade of political and cultural upheaval, women used their cultural activity to both critique and celebrate Scotland, to understand Scotland’s past and present, and to imagine potential futures.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Supported by funding from the College of Arts, University of Glasgow.
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Culture and Creative Arts
Supervisor's Name: Greer, Dr. Stephen and Price, Dr. Victoria
Date of Award: 2023
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2023-83520
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2023 09:10
Last Modified: 05 Apr 2023 09:10
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83520

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