IS THEATRE REALLY NECESSARY? Convener(s): Michael DempseyParticipants: Phelim McDermot, Veronique Van Meerbeek, Kirsty Lothian, Amelia Bird, Joanna Woodward.Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:Theatre shows what it’s difficult to discuss; and society needs it to. Theatre makes the invisible visible in storytelling.It is a universal instinct to share stories, and theatre can do so with particular power and energy.This power nourishes something profoundly human in us, even if we are not aware of that hunger hitherto.Question implies a sceptical questioner – how do we answer that person?Our wider hyper-mediated culture is serving people ‘Macdonalds’ instead of ‘fresh food’ - although bad theatre doesn’t help.Theatre can excite because people know less about what they’ll get, because they are allowed in to experience it directly.This face to face, human contact takes us beyond our identity as consumers. Theatrical contact can even transcend language barriers and that fact demonstrates its power to happen on a vital, human level.The wider culture needs needs redeeming and re-humanising. THEATRE is culturally redemptive because it humanises us. -This isn’t schtick as anyone who cares about great theatre knows.