Modern Theatre: Alternative Theatre
The end of theatre censorship in 1968 saw a surge in the alternative theatre movement in this country. No longer restricted by the Lord Chamberlain's censorious eye, companies were free to express any agenda they chose.
Feminist theatre companies like Red Ladder and the Women's Theatre Group (now the Sphinx) began to put on plays that expressed the political agenda of the feminist movement and questioned the male dominance of writers and directors in British theatre. Women writers like Caryl Churchill and Pam Gems wrote for companies like Joint Stock and then became successful in mainstream theatre.
Companies also explored new ways of creating theatre. They experimented with devised work which aimed to be more democratic, involving the whole company in all aspects of the creative process from initial concept to final performances.
In 1975 Gay Sweatshop began to create a specifically gay theatre. In the 1960s Joe Orton, Shelagh Delaney and Brendan Behan had created gay characters in their plays, but here Gay Sweatshop created a theatre where specifically gay issues were discussed openly.
Political theatre companies like 7:84, founded by writer John McGrath, also proliferated.
In the funding crisis of the 1980s many 'alternative' companies had their (meagre) subsidy cut and could no longer afford to continue. However, others successfully developed into the mainstream like Hull Truck and Mike Leigh who pioneered a unique devising process and later moved successfully into film and television.