Communication Breakdowns

Theatre, Performance, Rock Music and Some Other Welsh Assemblies

Ruth Shade

Communication Breakdowns

Ruth Shade

Distributed for University of Wales Press

195 pages | 8 2/5 x 5 2/5
Paper $15.00 ISBN: 9780708317617 Published January 2004 For sale in North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand only
List of Illustrations


List of Abbreviations


1. Aberdare – The Construction and Deconstruction of the ‘Athens of Wales’

2. Valley Lines

3. Art for the People: The Arts Council – Power, Discipline and Theatre

4. Colonizing the Mind: Antipathies, Polarities, Incompatibilities and Contradictions

5. Conclusions: Changed Priorities



Chronology of Significant Events and Documents 1992–2003

Selected Bibliography

Review Quotes
Phil Clark

“Anyone remotely interested in theatre in Wales should read this book.
Shade argues that in the past ten years, Welsh theatre has become the prerogative of the few, and that due to confused leadership and funding policies the audiences have been ignored. It is particularly the working class audience of the densely populated South Wales Valleys that concern her. She believes in a Welsh theatre where class issues stand hand in hand with Art, and that this issue is as relevant for amateur theatre as the professional artist.
She’s a champion of popularism, and sees no reason why theatre in Wales cannot achieve the popularity of Welsh rock music. There’s controversy here when she states that theatre in Wales should worry less about its Welshness, and instead find a relevance to its audience.
Shade strongly argues that if theatre is to survive in Wales, it had to be returned to the working class communities in a partnership with professional community arts, amateur theatre, their participants and audiences. Strong stuff. Some might say “why go back?”, others “why did we dismantle what was working?”. In the end she returns to the audience – as we all must if we are to create theatre that people want to see.
Fundamentally Shade believes that there is a communication breakdown between the funders, the policy makers, the producers of theatre and the audience. It is not, she states, too late for the politicians, the civil servants, the academics and the theatre practitioners to look to and be empowered by the needs of the audience in Wales. Then, and only then, will there be a shared ownership of Welsh theatre. Shade has a point – and a very strong one at that.” –Phil Clark, Artistic Director/Chief Executive, Sherman Theatre

Simon Harris

“Ruth Shade’s Communication Breakdowns is a significant contribution to writing about theatre in Wales and, indeed, an exemplary piece of class-based deconstruction, in that it interrogates the powerful centre (state funding for the arts in Wales) from a position in the margins (the people of Aberdare). By interrogating the inbuilt tensions, contradictions and subjective values that underpin assumptions about prevailing cultural policy, it shows how hierarchies of value are created, maintained and, sometimes, opposed. As with any good polemic, the reader will find much to enliven, agree with and argue about. In so doing, it offers a very incisive and passionate study, even if it does not draw everyone to the same conclusions.” –Simon Harris, Artistic Director, SgriptCymru

Caroline Clark |

“ . . . it is an important challenge to many assumptions about how and why things are done in the arts and it should be widely read and considered.” –Caroline Clark,


“ . . . a brave book and one that should be welcomed . . .” –Planet

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