Characters who believe! What can, does and should theatre say about religion.

Convener(s): Alex Scott

Participants: Vannessa Hammick Katherine Maxwell-Cook Lily Sykes Euama Faulkner Josh Neicho Janet Hodgson Richard Smith

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Our conversation was fairly meandering in nature and covered many topics. However religion hadn’t turned into the hot potato I thought it might. I explained that I wanted to do a show that confronted issues of equality (gay rights ect ect) in the church but also to engage with religious experience in a real and even transcendent way. People were really helpful in exploring the options available. We talked a lot about the transcendent experience of theatre in general and people had lots of personal examples where theatre had become more of a spiritual exercise, I’d even say that the hope of such experience encourages theatre going as a kind of search for something but what that is is a real mystery. At one point some kindly passing bumble bee passed by and asked what we meant by spirituality as opposed to religiosity and everyone was stumped. Religious feeling is one of those topics that seems to spawn more answers than questions. But I left the session with a renewed fire for a theatre that can tackle that dilemma imaginatively i.e to embrace the unanswerable nature of the whole thing through the conduit of unique and beautiful character details. The long running radio show the Archers was praised highly for all in is light handed representation of religious character which avoids the clichés such as the fire and brimstone preacher-  We also looked at mainstream plays such as the crucable by Arthur Miller and wondered if their was something more proactive to be contributed from the non-mainstream experimental theatres on the subject. All in all lot of really calm and insightful thoughts, I left thinking that more dialogue is the key, with something like religion you think your not allowed to talk about it but if you don’t ask you’ll never know.