Can Telly help, or would it balls things up even more?

Convener(s): Sam Hoyle

Participants: Peta Cooke, Simon Treves, Pippa, Jen Lunn and others….

Summary of discussion, questions raised, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Talent shows based on stage shows [Oliver, Joseph, etc] – great financial model that also gets people into theatres – but is it a price worth paying?  Does it kill theatre?  Perhaps Lloyd Webber is selling out to use this format, but it revives the show and brings new audiences to the theatre.  Interesting that these shows are not about telly, but about theatre, or at least a theatre show. That’s promising, right?

Is it ethical for BBC to do talent TV shows that promotes a commercial production? 

The choice of musicals is more depressing than the TV format – perpetuation of proven hits rather than anything new, or a show based on a film; is onus on us to react to this, and make artistic responses?

Is there a way of using a TV format to look at the making of new theatre?  Problem is that these shows perpetuates an idea of theatre that is old fashioned, and doesn’t reflect what theatre does now and what theatre can do now.  Can a TV show open out the “world” of theatre to TV audiences?  A format that isn’t documentary, but interactive in some way?  Making audiences more connected in a more direct way?

For writers, TV can subsidise their theatre writing – it is a relatively well paid gig that might not be great creatively, but can be the difference between making a living as a writer or not. 

Existing Initiatives between telly and theatre.

  • BBC Writers Room 10: a scheme run to link up new writers to theatres. 
  • NT Live – is this a collaboration between forms?  Kinda – theatre crew get to work in different medium, and actors are playing to audience and camera. 

David Tennant, playing Hamlet – sold out really fast as TV audience buying tickets, getting new people into theatre.  And to see Shakespeare!

Are X Factor wannabes ruining training?  Or is this show enabling a group of people to have a go at a profession that is traditionally not open to them, in terms of training and opportunities?  EG, young, black kids don’t ‘fit’ at RADA, or Italia Conti – X Factor is their point of entry to the performing profession.  Are these shows liberating talent that wouldn’t otherwise be there?

Upsurge in people going to live performances – we need to make sure that it stays ‘live’, that there is a reason why it is theatre and not told in another medium.

SKY Arts and BBC4 – making telly for theatre audiences, or the kind of people who go to the theatre.  Are these the platforms to use, or do we think more creatively about how to disseminate a piece of work that is a meeting of the mediums?

If people totally abandon appointment television, and just consume that particular chosen content in their own time when it is more convenient for them…it would free them up to go to more live experiences!

TV is changing really fast – maybe now is the time where the two could help each other….