Cutting Edge: British Theatre in Hard Times (Central St. Martins, 25th April 2015)


After attending the British Theatre Consortium's conference discussing the success of theatre since the cuts in Arts Council funding, there were a few ideas discussed that really resonated. The conference covered many topics regarding the current theatrical landscape, and revealed some incredible research. However, some research was disheartening. David Edgar and Dan Rebellato's paper revealing that gender inequalities are still as prevalent as they were ten years ago left me shocked (new plays by women made up 31% of productions in 2013 - the same figure as 2003). However shocking the statistics though, the opinions were the most intriguing to consider.

David Edgar announced that "we are in the theatrical golden age for political theatre" - but 'golden' seems a difficult word to use when discussing work that seems dependant on a deep unhappiness within society. As Laura Wade argued, political theatre needs something to angry at, and the vast amounts of incredibly political work seems to suggest a lot of anger within our society. However, noted by a member of the audience, political theatre has rarely been discussing on a 'social level' instead of a personal level. Obviously there exceptions to this rule, with Mike Bartlett's King Charles III being highly commended, and winning the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play in 2014 . The movement from personally political stories into the social looks to be changing in the lead up to the election, with plays more 'obviously' engaged with wider issues, such as Who Cares (Royal Court) and The Vote (Donmar Warehouse). I imagine the election itself will also have a remarkable effect on upcoming productions - and the outcome hopefully providing theatremakers with funding and resources, rather than a reason to make political theatre.

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