Has modern theatre degenerated from ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ to ‘Perv Without a Purpose’?

Convener(s):Charlie Meyrick

Participants: Steven Whinnery, Martin Bishop, Sophie Woolley, Amy Letman, Jade Gondy.

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Is a lot of new theatre just trying to shock without showing us anything about ourselves or society?

Stephen said that there will always be demons. The new shock value will be in quietness and contemplation.

The conversation quickly spun away from the theatre and into predictions about the way society is going. We are currently living through a period of consumerism and selfishness but the future will bring about a new austerity as dwindling resources fail to support standards of living. This could lead to a new Puritanism combined with eco-fascism as people spy on one another. PC fascists are always with us but what is PC changes.

Idealogical theatre is ‘the kiss of death’ and, yes, there is a lot of bad theatre now but even in the heyday of challenging theatre in the 50s, 60s and 70s there was crap theatre too. We just remember the good bits.

Satire is a good way of saying something valid.

Amy reckoned  that a lot of contemporary writers who are sleighted for being offensive in the reactionary press (eg. Mark Ravenhill, Sarah Cain, Phillip Ridley) produce work that, although shocking, is beautiful and inspiring. She likes being shocked and, anyway, there’s a market for it.

Sophie agreed that Phillip Ridley’s ‘Leaves of Glass’ was shocking but beautiful. She also indentified the TV drama ‘Nighty-Night’ as being outrageous, full of perverts but really funny and great social observation. Martin agreed that it was a great show.

Amy thought that the future of theatre may be less concerned with the writer and more to do with devised, cross-discipline work. Exciting things will happen.  Perverts are good!