Following the devastation ofWorld War 2 the city of Coventry refused to deteriorate in the ruins butinstead decided to re-invent itself.
With its car manufacturing industry expandingrapidly, its financial success ultimately led to the erection of the BelgradeTheatre in 1958. The Belgrade Theatre was the first theatre to have been constructedin over 20 years and for Coventry, it stood as a symbol of regeneration succeedingthe desolation that had consumed the city after the Second World War. Duringthis time, renewal was not perceived merely in monetary terms, but also as a societaland cultural responsibility.
Britain’s education system also underwentfundamental transformations. The Labour governments that led 1964 to 1970 agreedto demolish the previous tripartite structure (secondary modern, secondarytechnical and grammar) to make way for the new comprehensive educational system.Along with the other earliest promoters for this new method, Coventry fortifiedits identity as a city prepared and excited to undergo major transformation. Nevertheless,the educational system was not alone in their change; the general outlooks onboth learning and schooling had also altered.Theatre in education mirrors aneducation that is centred around children and experimental, its aim to involvethe younger generation both with and through their humanity and not merelypreparing them for the work market.
It was only during mid-twentieth century Britainthat people began to challenge the previously reigning Victorian notions ofeducation leading to more socially productive and child concentrated conceptsbeing introduced. In 1944 the Education Act stated that ‘It shall be the dutyof the local education authority for every area, so far as their powers extend,to continue towards the spiritual, mental and physical developments of thecommunity.’1 Despitethis recognition, the formal acknowledgement that theatre may be a constructivelearning process did not materialise until after the Second World War. Inconjunction with the innovative educators who had always relied on theatre to enrichlearning practices were a small group of theatre makers who were prepared toexperiment with dramatic forms to advance children academically. Brain way wasthe founder of Theatre centre in London and is also considered one of the most prominentpractitioners involved in the introduction of theatre into education. Hisorganisation, established in 1953, established work that challenged children’s artisticimagination through their involvement in the storytelling process of theatre. 1 1944Education Act, Part II, 7.