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Rural Modernity in BritainA Critical Intervention$
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Kristin Bluemel and Michael McCluskey

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474420952

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474420952.001.0001

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The ‘Uncertainty of Our Climate’: Mary Kelly and the Rural Theatre

The ‘Uncertainty of Our Climate’: Mary Kelly and the Rural Theatre

(p.121) Chapter 7 The ‘Uncertainty of Our Climate’: Mary Kelly and the Rural Theatre
Rural Modernity in Britain

Andrew Walker

Edinburgh University Press

Andrew Walker examines playwright Mary Kelly’s writings on village theatre and her production of agrarian pageantry for purposes of expanding notions of the genres and cultural impacts of rural modernity. Kelly, best known as the model for Miss La Trobe in Virginia Woolf’s Between the Acts, enjoyed success as a director of rural theatre in the 1920s and 1930s. This led to two influential books on rural arts, How to Make a Pageant (1936) and Village Theatre (1939). Envisioning the theatre as an outgrowth of folk religion and mythology grounded in agricultural and fertility ritual—a vision taken up to great effect by T. S. Eliot—Kelly advocated a theatre run by and on behalf of rural performers, producers, and audience. This chapter looks at her development of these ideas in print and practice as a way of examining interwar rural dramatic production writ large.

Keywords:   Rural theatre, Pageantry, Mary Kelly, Village England, Between the Acts, T.S. Eliot, Folk religion

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