In fact I hear a lot of complaint and even despair about the state of theatre and the industry supporting it.
For creatives it’s the lack of opportunity, diversity, inspiration, time, money…for producers perhaps the lack of money, time, talent, creativity… for audience members too there is a desire for new stories, new faces and more affordable seats.
These days, with the exception of plays such as Waiting For Godot and perhaps the occasional Dario Fo piece, absurdist theatre in it’s purest form is sadly rarely performed in London’s theatres. However, it is exactly this apparent absence of absurdism in contemporary theatre, this gap in the market, that has drawn innovative young theatre company Theatre of Heaven & Hell to the form. When talking to founding member Elena Clements, she explains:
The world of art has predicted, realised and moved through generations of dystopias, and we continue to create and dissect them now. We revel creatively in the pain and frustration, the chilling detail in our collective terror about the future. And why not…
I have a love-hate relationship with user reviews.
Like most people I will use Google to avoid disappointment when choosing a restaurant, Airbnb, hairdryer or hand drill BUT I do it reluctantly and would still rather a friend tell me what a great meal they had at this or that trendy new cafe.
Not many companies can boast of a residency at The Natural History Museum. But as of 2017 improvised comedy group Do Not Adjust Your Stage have been able to do exactly that. On top of this they can also boast (but they don’t!) of two other residencies running at The Free Association and The Nursery Theatre and all this only a few years after a group of students from Sheffield University decided to form a fledgling improv troupe. I got in contact with Helen O’Donnell, one of the current ensemble of eight, and asked what it is that draws the group to improvisation:
The festival, now in its second year, aims to present the works of bold and intrepid theatre companies whilst also providing a platform for local artists. At the helm is Anna Arthur, director of the festival with twenty five years’ worth of experience within the industry.
As we all well know, regardless of which sides of the many fences you may sit on, 2016 was a year of great social, political and cultural upheaval. As a result the world of theatre has been galvanised, producing a myriad of works to reflect and open the debate on issues such as gender equality, racial discrimination, political elitism and the current refugee crisis.
On their website, Old Sole Theatre Company refer to something they call the ‘theatrical spectrum’. This is something that most are aware of but still like to pretend does not exist; theatre’s overwhelming tendency to categorise and pigeonhole. This is a musical. This is a ‘straight’ play. This is mainstream. This is fringe. Looking to see a comedy? Will that be satirical, political, restoration, bedroom, surrealist, deadpan, farcical, physical or improvisational? There are frankly more genres in theatre than there are celebrity castings.