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Some background

Radius is an ecumenical charity which promotes

the performance and study of religious drama,

defined as 'drama which illuminates the human condition'.

Most but not all members are Christians.

How did it all begin?

Founded in 1929, Radius (or the Religious Drama Society, as it then was) had a strong commitment to exploring religion through the arts. The driving force behind the society in its early years was the director and theologian E Martin Browne, who founded the










wartime touring company The Pilgrim Players, taking live theatre into schools, barns and air-raid shelters. Browne also directed all the plays of T S Eliot, whom he met through Bishop George Bell, the society’s first president. Browne promoted 'drama which illuminates the human condition' and wrote:

'What is the scope of Christian drama? Is it to be confined to "religious" subjects, the Bible, lives of saints and the theological implications of life and death? Or is it to range the world of human relationships with the transforming mind of the Christ-centred writer?'












During these early years Radius's governing body included such well-known names as the actors

Athene Seyler and Sybil Thorndike and the playwrights T S Eliot and Dorothy L Sayers. Christopher Fry's verse drama A Sleep of Prisoners was commissioned by the society for the Festival of Britain in 1951 and in the same year E Martin Browne directed the first York mystery play revival.

The society changes with the times

In the post-war years Radius

became less centralised and

more ecumenical. The society’s

third President was Bishop

Colin James of Wakefield,

reflecting Radius’s strong

presence in the north of

England under the leadership

of Pamela Keily who was

awarded the MBE for her

services to religious drama.

Among the writers who wrote

plays for the Northern Com-

mittee were the poets Norman

Nicholson and Anne Ridler.


Our fourth President was

Bishop Peter Firth of Malmes-

bury, Director of Religious

Broadcasting in Manchester

for many years, our fifth

President was The Rt Revd

Graeme Knowles and our sixth

President, appointed in 2018,

is The Rt Revd Dr Stephen



After the war the Radius

summer schools were set up

to give amateur drama practitioners the chance of a week’s training with professionals. These continued in an unbroken series until 2004. Training events continue in the 21st century with day and weekend workshops.


Meanwhile Radius’s playwriting operation gathered strength, pioneering the concept of flexible playscripts in the eighties. Radius authors continue this tradition, and the society now has a unique list of plays, many of them specially commissioned. When Radius gave up its fixed premises in 2006, unpublished typescripts were deposited with the British Library and archival material with the V&A Theatre Collections.


More about earlier Radius material - coming soon

AS & ST vsm TSE & EMB vsm

When you are a child your vessel is not yet full so you care for nothing but your own affairs. When you grow up, your vessel overflows, and you are a politician, a philosopher, or an explorer and adventurer. In old age, the vessel dries up: there is no overflow: you are a child again.

Captain Shotover in Heartbreak House – George Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950

Colin James.sm Graeme Knowles 2 Anne Ridler sm

The Right Reverend Rowan Williams, formerly Archbishop of Canterbury and now Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, has agreed to continue as our Patron.

More pages are due to be added to this new Radius website, so be sure to check it out again shortly.

Rowan W

Pages are currently being updated or added to the Radius website, so be sure to check it out again shortly.

A new President for Radius

Radius is delighted that the Right Revd Dr Stephen Platten will be the sixth President of the Society. Dr Platten has been Dean of Norwich and Bishop of Wakefield and is now Chaplain at St Martin within Ludgate in the City of London. For the full press release, see here.

_ Dr Stephen Platten