The aim of this dissertation is to study the development of a so called free theatre group in the south of Sweden. This group, here called Proteus/Mercurius, started out as a travelling amateur theatre, emanating from the Student Theatre of Lund, in 1965, and waas finally established as the regional theatre of the county of Skaraborg, in 1988. The group' s leadeer and director Ulf Gran became the head of the new theatre.
The French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu uses the concept of cultural field to characterize the arena,where agents and institutions fight over the correct definition of, in this case, Good Theatre. My main objective is to find and correlate the various factors contributing to the changing legitimacy of Proteus/Mercurius within the Swedish theatre field.
Placing myself within this field I have studied the traje´ctory of ProteusMercurius in relation to the other theatre groups that made up the free theatre movement from the mid-sixties onwards.
I have found that Proteus/Mercurius differed frommany other groups at a time when leftist political declarations were common. It also had a clearly defined leader and director, when team work was the word of the day. When other groups wrote their own plays, Proteus/Mercurius specialized in classics, such as Shakespeare, Marivaux, Strindberg, Holbnerg and so on. It seems to be a matter of timing; Proteus/Mercurius was nevdr in the mainstream of the theatre groups.
But viewed from a distance many similarities between Proteus/Mercurius and other groups have become evident. One of the reasons for Proteus/Mercurius' changing legitimacy seems to be that various kinds of symbolic capital such as education and social relations proved valuable at different moments.
When the groups, thanks to generous state subsidies, overflowed the market, factors such as state educated actors became more important. And, even though Proteus/Mercurius actually managed to form the basis of a new regional theatre, its tradition of using amateurs or student actors in productions became an increasingly negative factor.
Still, I have found that Proteus/Mercurius over the years kept to its initial goal of interacting with the audience in new and unusual ways, often in psaces not ordinarily used for theatre. The most appreciated part of the group' s work was aLWAYS THE OUTDOOR SUMMER performances, REACHING AUDIENCES OUTSIDE THE GROUP OF habitual theatre-goers. The same went for performances for specific groups, such as improvisations with nurses and Winnie-the-Pooh for mentally handicapped children. Even if Proteus/Mercurius did not reach lasting fame within the field, it med with some very appreciative audiences.
Stockholm: Stift. för utgivning av teatervetenskapliga studier , 1997. , 279 p.