A BORDERS author has released a mammoth work focusing on the history of British theatre.

Spanning two volumes, and almost 1,500 pages, An Illustrated History of British Theatre and Performance uncovers 2,000 years of theatre history, from Roman Britain to the present day.

Doctor Robert Leach, who has lived in Selkirk since 1997, has a long association with the world of theatre and performing arts.

A former lecturer in English Literature at The University of Edinburgh, Dr Leach has acted in the United States of America and even directed theatre productions in Moscow, and his new books draw on this extensive experience and knowledge.

Dr Leach told The Border Telegraph: “I have spent my life shuttling between active theatre work and academic life, so I suppose the book marries these two careers.

“I'm retired now and have lots of hours to fill - hence the books!”

Whereas most writers who have considered the history of theatre have confined themselves to describing events in London’s west end, Dr Leach is keen to highlight the historical roles played by a diverse array of characters from across the country.

The Borders, in fact, has its own claim to fame in the storied history of British theatre.

“When the Scottish Enlightenment challenged a superstitious kirk, pivotal to the argument was a play by a Borderer - The Tragedy of Douglas by John Home,” Dr Leach explained.

Home, born in Ancrum, is immortalised on the Scott Monument in Edinburgh.

The Borders’ role in live theatre and performance is not solely the preserve of the history books, however, and the region is home to numerous thriving amateur dramatic societies and theatrical ventures.

Dr Leach believes the theatre still has an important role to play in society.

He said: “In this age of screens, recordings and digital communication of all sorts, the live theatre can reach parts no other art form can.

“I am therefore very excited by the new Pub Theatre which makes its debut at the County Hotel in Selkirk.

“Long may it flourish!”

An Illustrated History of British Theatre and Performance, published by Routledge, is available now, priced at £175 per volume.