Theatre and dance in the UK

Experimental artists, new technology, disability arts, circus, hip hop and training. Discover what's happening in UK performing arts

1 RashDash Two Man Show The Other Richard Richard Davenport 3RashDash, a UK-based company of performers, musicians and makers, keep things minimal in Two Man Show at the Edinburgh Fringe. Photo: Richard Davenport

Say 'UK performance' to many people and they'll think of the West End, Shakespeare and RADA-trained actors. It's true – Britain is the home of the world's most famous playwright and its stages have a history of classical traditions and commercial success. But there's also much more to discover... 

Experimental performance thrives on influences from different cultures

  • There's lots of energy from independent and experimental artists working in devised theatre, contemporary dance and live art. This work thrives on influences from international artists and different cultures. From circus to hip hop to new technology, artists are experimenting with new approaches and crossing traditional boundaries.

  • The UK produces more new writing for theatre than anywhere in the world. There's a strong tradition of political theatre. Today's artists are exploring new ways of using performance to reflect on difficult issues and challenge our views.

  • Children's theatre is constantly inventive and there's an active outdoor arts scene that reaches huge, diverse audiences.

  • Disabled and d/Deaf artists have long been creating work and campaigning for change. The London 2012 Paralympics brought renewed investment, money and ambition to this sector, and the 2012 legacy continues with artists sharing skills and artworks all over the world.

The UK produces more new writing for theatre than anywhere in the world

  • The performing arts scene is active across the whole country. There's a wide ranging festival culture, with events of all shapes and sizes. With its unique power to bring people together, performance is often a crucial part of cultural strategies, from city planning to rural touring initiatives. 
  • The UK industry has a sophisticated working practice that creates performance from, with, for and by communities. This includes extensive work in engagement, participation, working with young people and empowering marginalised groups.

  • From technical skills to leadership and management, there is high demand for Britain's education and training institutions, with people from all over the world coming to study here.

Issues around culture, performance and society are hotly discussed

  • The commercial theatre sector is highly developed. A number of producers have been savvy about working with innovative smaller companies that bring a new, cutting edge freshness to big productions.

  • Issues around culture, performance and society are hotly discussed. What are the benefits of art and how can we share them? Who is represented, and who makes the decisions? How do race, class, gender and sexuality come into play? Visit our blog for some of the current debates.

  • With performances being broadcast around the world, international audiences have more opportunities to see UK theatre and dance than ever before. Check our website for films and upcoming live streams.

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