Friday, February 21, 2014

In Battalions Delphi study - Parliamentary launch (5)

Three weeks ago, on 29 January 2014, Helen Campbell Pickford and I launched our In Battalions Delphi study in the House of Commons, at the invitation of Kerry McCarthy MP, chair of the Performers' Alliance All-Party Parliamentary Group. It was a well-attended event with MPs, peers and representatives from across the British theatre industry.

There were several speakers on the day and, in a series of blog posts since, I have been capturing and publishing the text of their speeches here. Today is the turn of three different contributors from the floor. After all the various panel speakers, there was too little time to have a proper debate, so afterwards I sent out an email asking if anyone would like to say anything on my blog which they didn't get to on the day. Below are three replies I received.

Previous speakers featured in this series are:

Dennis Kelly, playwright 
Neil Darlison, director of Theatre at Arts Council England  
Giles Croft of Nottingham Playhouse
Elizabeth Newman, Associate Director of Bolton Octagon

Speakers from the floor

Tassos Stevens, Coney:

"I’m from Coney, which makes all kinds of play in all kinds of ways, theatre in the broadest sense of the word where the audience is present with scope to play. I am here to support the need for new work and considered risk-taking as part of a thriving theatrical landscape, and to champion the value of space and support for what might grow into the successes of the future: whether that’s made by a writer’s singular vision, actors running around with cardboard boxes, or in Coney’s case, some early crazy experiments with telecommunications and theatres. We’re all playwrights, for a wright is a maker by any means necessary. And I repudiate any division between those who help make theatre happen, including ‘the administrators’, without whom fall away the structures we need for great theatre to grow and happen with an audience. We’re all in this together, and that’s why I’m here."

Sudha Bhuchar, Tamasha:

"It was great so see evidenced what we all know through our experiences: subsidy is essential so artists and theatre companies can take risks! Tamasha's East is East and our musical Fourteen Songs, Two Weddings and a Funeral both started life as huge shows with big casts, bursting out of tiny studios. Both went on to have various remounts on the middle scale with East is East the film being named as the point of cross-over of British Asian culture into the mainstream. My children's play Child of the Divide about the experiences of children during the partition of India would be deemed too risky in the current climate and would never get commissioned. It is now on a recommended reading list for A-level and AS level English literature. All this work could not have happened without proper subsidy. Cuts are endangering diverse voices from coming to the fore. Even proven classics and revivals from BME artists are harder to realise. It is essential that work from Britain's multicultural communities comes to the fore to truly reflect our changing society."

Jack Bradley, Sonia Friedman Productions:

"I did not get to say the West End cares. I commissioned Chimerica for the National Theatre Studio. Ben Power and Headlong took it on and Sonia Friedman Productions brought it in to shore. That's what I want. To change Shaftesbury Avenue. I wanted to say in this centenary year a hundred years ago a generation of playwrights died. So theatre invented revivals, a form previously not explored. It dominated the last century. This century should have no time for it. We must make anew. Cuts will endanger that. The West End will be the poorer."

The In Battalions Delphi study contains 36 innovative proposals on ways to protect risk-taking on new work for the stage, despite austerity.

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