Examining British theatre: 1

I’ve decided to try something out with the blog this week, I am going to do a focus week where every post is an exploration of one central theme. This theme – because it is close to my heart and what I’m about – is British theatre. Through my posts this week I want to explore what this is, what it isn’t and what it could be. As a young theatre maker I want to start a dialogue about what it is people like me should (or could) be doing.

The first and ultimately most important thing is thinking for ourselves. Something I still don’t feel like I’m doing enough. Sure, I write my own plays, direct and produce them but constantly in my mind is the thought of how other people are doing things, how things are done and should be done. What I should be doing, not what I want to be doing. I (to use a highly gendered term) don’t have the balls. British theatre – in short – needs to grow  a pair.

As my inspiration for my explorations in these posts I will be using Sean Holmes’ recent speech about the launch of Lyric Hammersmith’s Secret Theatre, and about the possible corruption of the institution of British Theatre. I will use this because it’s the most recent provocative speech about the topic I have had access to, and also a little because I’m too busy or lazy to seek out another comparative one. So, take a look at that speech here. 

What will I be picking up on from this speech?

  • I will question the notion of a Secret Theatre and issues of accessibility in British Theatre. Pondering whether the term ‘theatre’ is one in need of deconstruction and redefinition.
  • I will leap on the idea that theatre needs to be always questioning, that its aims should be to “provoke, horrify, charm, astound. And above all to question. To question and provoke questions”.
  • I will draw focus to the mindset when seeing work from other (often European) cultures – “If only I could think like that” and the need to broaden our minds and break down constraints; “things we thought of as rules were merely assumptions, and assumptions that had become so ingrained we didn’t even notice them anymore”.
  • I will discuss my personal experience of the structure for making work we currently have, that surrenders aesthetics to time and disallows failure into the room.
  • I will approach Holmes’ questions: what is theatre for? What isn’t it doing enough? How could it be [the best in the world]?

I hope that through writing these I might reach some sort of understanding of what it is I want to be doing, the work I want to be making to contribute to a new British Theatre. Who I want to be as a theatre maker. I also hope that in reading them others may start to question and to think about what it is they want from this theatrical institution that could offer so much to society.

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2 responses to “Examining British theatre: 1

  1. Reblogged this on Lyric Hammersmith and commented:
    It’s fantastic to see that Sean’s Secret Theatre speech has inspired theatre makers in this way.

    • It’s great to read such a speech and that people are starting to say these things out loud. Let’s hope things continue in this direction.

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