christina dawson, 11 July 2012

After attending a meet the programmers event recently I came away with questions surrounding the word ‘Challenging’. I found many venues, programmers, artists and companies to be using the word to describe what they look to book or produce. I asked myself why is this word saturating the North East theatre world? and is the work really..challenging? I would expect challenging theatre, as an audience member, to make me feel uncomfortable, for it to be experimental or just a bit weird. And then the question is raised that what challenges me will not challenge you and visa versa. As an artist or theatre maker I would consider producing work as always a challenge, wether it be the challenge of ticket sales, writing Arts council applications, writing, directing, learning lines, being inspired when you've had a shit day…whatever! its always a challenge but that doesn't mean that what the audience see is ‘challenging’

During the session a number of people described how in the 80s, when they were emerging artists there seemed to be more people producing theatre above pubs, in their bedrooms, in whatever space they could find because they were so passionate about the subject and it was so relevant to the moment they were in that they couldn't not produce the work. Where is that now? where is that movement? If its in the North East please point it out. possible hence the lack of fringe.

Maybe we need to have some balls and then we can call it challenging…

I was pleased to discover, in the cafe before my session started, that Northern Stage have banned this word from being used to describe theatre in their venue.


passion, challenging