Following from my last post, the first thing I want to share today is another BBC Essay: On Directing, this time with director, Barlett Sher:
Sher is cut from a different cloth to Emma Rice. He is what I would call a ‘traditional’ director and plays a different role in the theatre world. He has some interesting things to say about the importance of getting transitions and transformation right in theatre as well as talking about the importance of rhythm in theatre making. However, there was a moment that surprised me. He talks about his role in theatre as an ‘interpretive’ art, unlike a visual artist because they start with a blank canvas. He seems to ignore all the new work being created by directors that don’t start with a script or a libretto. In a sense it links to my previous post McTheatre. I’m not saying for one moment that Sher is one of the Mega-musical mob, but he would have appeared to have missed what is going on around him – not everyone is re-staging South Pacific or Romeo and Juliet or classic American drama. Contemporary theatre directors are creating new work, challenging work, work that is alive. I think it is about taking risks and scaring yourself.
As a perfect example of what I mean is the Royal Court Theatre in the UK. They are renown for doing fantastic, unusual and innovative work. Their current season is called Open Court a six week festival of plays, ideas and events chosen and suggested by a group of over 140 writers.
Two of the things they are doing as part of Open Court particularly caught my attention. Firstly, their Surprise Theatre where every Monday and Tuesday nights there is a different surprise performance from a wide-ranging field of writers and theatre-makers; each creating a unique one-off performance, which remains a mystery to its audience right up until the lights go down. How’s that for risk taking by both the performers and the audience?! The performances are also being live-streamed!
Then there is PIIGS – New Short Plays. PIIGS stands for Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain – all the European countries that have been hardest hit by the economic down-turn. The idea is that international writers join up with their British counterparts to create plays that explore what life is really like for those living in austerity. What a great idea!
This is what theatre should be about.