Nicholas Ridout studied at Cambridge University and has a PhD from Birkbeck, University of London. He is currently Professor of Theatre at Queen Mary University of London, where he has taught since 2002. He is the author of Stage Fright, Animals and Other Theatrical Problems (Cambridge University Press, 2006), Theatre & Ethics (Palgrave, 2009) and Passionate Amateurs: Theatre, Communism and Love (Michigan, 2013). He is the co-author, with Claudia Castellucci, Romeo Castellucci, Chiara Guidi and Joe Kelleher, of The Theatre of Societas Raffaello Sanzio (Routledge 2007) and co-editor, with Joe Kelleher, of Contemporary Theatres in Europe (Routledge, 2006). He is the editor of Theatre Survey, and co-editor, with Patrick Anderson, of the book series Performance Works at Northwestern University Press.
Scenes from Bourgeois Life seeks to develop a new perspective on the history of modern British theatre, and to begin to address a gap in its scholarly history. The core proposition is that, in Britain, the development of the modern theatre – conceived as the theatre in which some people sit in the dark during their leisure time watching other people work in the light – has been marked throughout its history by Britain’s global position as a colonial and imperial power, and that a distinctive British bourgeois subjectivity is one of the products of the set of relations in play in this situation. The relationship between the theatre and the British experience of colonisation begins in the early eighteenth century as theatregoing takes its place among a distinctive set of new social and leisure practices, all of which owe their existence to the circulation of colonial commodities.
The project is to write a cultural history of how some of the most widespread performance practices of the bourgeoisie (theatregoing, theatre-making, home entertainments, exercising critical judgment, watching television) have contributed to the formation of a distinctive way of life. It also seeks to explore how these practices may have been developed in response or in relation to the presence of the subaltern, in the form of the non-bourgeois subjects whose production underpins and whose culture challenges the performance practices of the bourgeoisie: people such as slaves and workers.