How can we re-invent/create new forms/languages in UK theatre?

Steven Kirschbaum, 29 July 2012

Johnathan, Debbie, Rohanne, Steven

The question is a direct response to the main theme of “What are we going to do about theatre?”. In the face of the coming cultural shift of funding for the arts and theatre is there a need for UK theatre to reinvent itself? And how could we find new forms of theatre that are engaging and a reflection of our contemporary culture?

The group discussed about the difficulty of the authority of the author versus the autonomy of the director in UK theatre, which to a certain degree can stifle the creative process. Directors, literary managers, who wanted to “play with the text” with the actors were accused disrespecting the text. The hierarchy of the playwright within the rehearsal process can have a limiting effect on the creation of new forms of theatre from the development from the page to stage.

The group also argued about different forms of experimental theatre texts that enable more creativity for the actors and the directors - such as the postdramatic works of Sarah Kane, Mark Ravenhill, the discourse theatre of Rene Pollesch, Elfriede Jelinek, the German Director's Theatre in opposition to the UK playwright's theatre - are these possible ways/ inspiration for UK theatre to go out and explore? There were mixed feelings in the group: Some participants felt Scotland as well as the rest of the UK might be too conservative to try to invent a new language for theatre. Because funding and the fear of failure.

Of course there are some interesting companies that are doing exciting experimental theatre like the Venus Labyrinth at the Arches, who play with structure and audience interaction, The Wheel, and the postdramatic work of Mission Drift.

UK artists need to get the “permission to misbehave” - to allow experimentation in order for this new language to manifest and grow.


director's theatre, Elfriede Jelinek, postdramatic, playwright's theatre, experimental theatre, theatre forms