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Twenty Theatres to See Before You Die

Amber Massie-Blomfield

"Wide-ranging, open-minded ... a sustained and deep inquiry into what theatre is and what it does"

Holly Williams, TLS
shortlisted for the 2018 theatre book prize

published in a handsome paperback edition with flaps and super-matt jacket

From Cornwall to Mull, Amber Massie-Blomfield takes the road less travelled to discover Britain’s most astonishing theatres.

A ruined playhouse, haunted halls, a stage hewn from granite cliffs. Theatres on wheels, squeezed into a former public lavatory and rescued from fire. A theatre that is not there at all.

Making the case for radical, quirky and nonconforming performance spaces alongside iconic venues, this book is a celebration of thriving against the odds. It also tells a personal account of a life-long love affair with the places where ‘anything is possible’: from open-air fry-ups and an impromptu can-can to paranormal manifestations.

An adventure through theatre, place and the people who make it happen, Twenty Theatres to See Before You Die gives us reason to be hopeful.

Our price £  OUT OF STOCK
RRP £14.99
Please note: due to the recent change in tax regulations, we are currently unable to ship to EU countries.
352 pages
ISBN 9781908058454
Published 25 May 2018
Cover design: Matthew Young


Massie-Blomfield’s gorgeously written, heart-felt book is about the artists and the audiences and what they bring to each space and what they leave behind.
Lyn Gardner, The Stage

This is a beautifully written book, informative and considered, offering hope about the arts and what they can achieve – and it’s also a handy travel guide that I’ll consult when planning weekends away or day trips.
Lynn Enright, The Pool

Wide-ranging, open-minded ... Massie-Blomfield conducts a sustained and deep inquiry into what theatre is and what it does, how it is affected by place, and how it can profoundly change individuals and communities.
Holly Williams, TLS

The book is infectious in its passion for what is possible in a theatre ... not just the grand, gilded, spotlit theatres of old, but also the ramshackle and the penniless, the dog-eared and the much-loved. These are spaces of wonder and joy...
Daisy Bowie-Sell

Twenty Theatres To See Before You Die doesn’t read like a dry, academic tome. Like theatre itself, it’s personable, has something to say, and as much a critique of the past as a gauge of what is yet to come.
★★★★ Michael Davis, Breaking the Fourth Wall

With a friendly and warm tone that mixes storytelling with analytical style, Amber Massie-Blomfield concisely examines theatre’s value to the wider community, whether it is its history, architecture or inclusivity that has made an impact.
★★★★ Phoebe Cole, The Spy in the Stalls

Passionate and insightful ... an important work for our times.
Benjamin Yeoh, Then Do Better

The communities, the gathering of strangers and the idea that anything is possible warms the heart. [...] This book is not a bucket list of theatres to check out, [but] a charming collection of stories featuring people, memories and communities.
Caroline King, Contrary Life

A fascinating read for anyone with an interest in the history of theatre.
Emma Clarendon, Love London Love Culture

I loved Twenty Theatres to See Before You Die more than I can say. It’s a beautiful, beautifully written book, that deserves to win prizes.
David Eldridge, playwright

Amber Massie-Blomfied’s lively, informative and hugely enjoyable book turned out to be the perfect lockdown getaway.
★★★★★ Paul T. Davies,

Masterful ... this book reminds us of why we want theatre in the first place, and why we want to save it.
Sage Fitzpatrick, My Theatre Mates

I now feel like I have travelled the length and breath of the country with Massie-Bloomfield and experienced all of these theatres with her ... This book, like the theatre [she] describes, is a ‘glimmer in the dark.’
Sarah McPartlan, Musical Theatre Musings

Media coverage

The most spectacular theatres to visit in the UK.
Amber Massie-Blomfield writing in The i

The book that shows theatre can be a thing of beauty.
Jessie Thompson, Evening Standard

One of the best things about a theatre is how it provides a readymade community - you just turn up, and there they all are. It's a wonderful salve for loneliness.
Amber Massie-Blomfield interviewed for Run-Riot

Hidden gems open up theatre to a wider range of audiences.
Amber Massie-Blomfield writing in The Stage

Theatres are places where we learn to be compassionate and to celebrate difference.
Amber Massie-Blomfield writing in UK Theatre

Amber Massie-Blomfield interviewed by Jo Good on BBC London Radio

About the author

Amber Massie-Blomfield is an arts producer and non-fiction writer. Her work has been commissioned and published by Standart, Unbound, Annexe Magazine, The Wrong Quarterly, The Independent, The Guardian, Exeunt and New Internationalist. She is a regular contributor to The Stage. She received the Society of Authors’ Michael Meyer Award in 2016, and in 2018 a Special Achievement Award at the Off West End Awards for her work at Camden People’s Theatre, where she was Executive Director from 2014 to 2018. She is a fellow of Birkbeck, University of London, and the Royal Society of the Arts. Twenty Theatres to See Before You Die is her first book. She lives in Brighton.

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