Engineers of the Imagination


Baz Kershaw and Tony Coult, Methuen, 1983, revised 1990.

This is still the definitive work on art in the community and has held its own for 20 years. A down-to-earth book to get thumbmarks and glue on, it explains the basic techniques and inspirational ethos of Welfare State International’s work – the making of processions; large-scale puppets; fixed structures; fire and ice technology; processional theatre, dance music, celebratory food and feasts and much more. A must-have for all community artists.

The original Welfare State International manual on site-specific theatre. Reprinted many times since 1983 and still considered the bible of this work.

Fantastic book. A must-have for all community arts projects.
Brilliant publication with sound practical advice for everything from shadow puppetry to vast spectacles. Fantastic useful ideas to spark the imagination. (Amazon Review)

For any purchase outside of the UK please use your local Amazon


An excellent combination of theory and practice
“John Fox and Welfare State’s work is still (if not increasingly) relevant today. Their radical approach to community-based performance has changed over the years, but one thing has remained constant: their concern for society and humanity. This book offers an excellent overview of some of their work, as well as a practical handbook on how to do it yourself. Unfortunately, the book is limited in its scope and doesn’t cover the full development of WSI and John Fox’s work. But there’s enough to get you interested and search elsewhere for more. Great inspiration, great reading, great reference.”

A Customer – Amazon Review

The Haynes Manual of participatory theatre
“This review is from Engineers of the Imagination: Welfare State Handbook (Biography and Autobiography) (Paperback)
An indispensable guide full of down-to-earth, practical advice on every, and i mean every, aspect of performance in public. far from being superseded by the internet, it has only become MORE useful as a tool to help people bridge the gap between the abstract – ideas, philosophy, cyberspace – and the concrete – materials, method, what you need and exactly how you’re going to build it, dealing with people, organisations and even yourself. If you’re an artist and want to connect with your audience in the streets, parks and fields, this is the book you will start and end with.

Satur9 – Amazon Review

Fantastic book!
“This review is from Engineers of the Imagination: Welfare State Handbook (Biography and Autobiography) (Paperback)
A handbook from a bygone age, but all the better for that. In the dark reign of Thatcher, post miners strike and a dole queue from here to Gibraltar this brilliant publication, with its sound practical advice for community/youth art projects, with everything from shadow puppetry to vast papier mache/cane spectacles….
1/2 Molesworth 1/2 Notting hill…
Although the basic techniques are now quite well known this particular compilation with its ethos is the complete package and has more than held its own for 20 years.
A must-have for all community arts projects (although the good ones no doubt have one already, or one of the contributors at hand!)

I can still smell the PVA!” Ms. Isobel M. Mackenzie – Amazon Review


Street Theatre Genius

“Engineers of the Imagination is street-theatre genius and an absolute must for anyone interested in the many forms of street-theatre art. For anyone who wants to get their hands dirty and have a go Chapter 4, ‘Core Techniques’ is brilliant.” Kristine Szulik – Amazon Review