If we believe theatre can change lives and attitudes, how can we speed up the process - as the future looks increasingly grim – or are we just all ‘fiddling while Rome burns’?

Convener(s): Judith Knight

Participants: Sally Cowling, Gerry Pilgrim, Tamzin Griffin, Lucy Neal, Nick Sweeting, Ruth Ben Tovim, Mary O’Connor, Laura McDermott, Aaron Minnigan, Leanne Cosby, Emma Rees, John Jack, Ric Watts

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Agreed that theatre can make a difference but all too slow – there is a real urgency. But if we don’t do anything, then may as well give up. Human creative spirit shows itself in dire circumstances. Creativity will survive no matter what. But too often preaching to converted – eg National Theatre Stuff Happens – all audience agree anyway. 

But a lot happening – often not in mainstream – small local projects can make a huge difference. Young people taking issues on board. But not Daily Mail readers – how to get at them? Do we drag them into see political work? More chances of making change through participatory work, one to one. Try to get fusion between personal and political, what people do in their personal lives IS political. Stop people just being spectators, try to get involvement.   Self awareness, take more personal responsibility (like Suffragettes).

All this positive, but too slow. How to reach greater numbers, more quickly. Eg Sultan’s Elephant – likened to big anti-Iraq war march, both immensely moving, huge numbers of people, huge impact.

Programmers have to take responsibility for making change.  

Artists are ingenious, communicative and articulate and can get messages across. They have a responsibility to get message across.

Does create a chain reaction.

What do we do about international work – carbon off-setting? More lateral thinking needed. Use technology in new ways. 

Optimistic that performing arts courses are over-subscribed. But what are they going to do with it when trained? Supersize Me a great example of making a huge difference – can we get small projects moving into film and TV and have that sort of influence? 

A lot of political theatre is ‘verbatim theatre’ – what about new plays?

Moving political work into the west end.

Climate change really on the agenda now.

Often starts with just ‘guts’ and instinct.

Artists need time to react to political events/situations. Not much time left! Creative thinking – snowball effect.

What about responsibility of audiences? How to mobilise them to act?


Keep doing it, it does make a difference

But work to get this work BIGGER and MORE VISIBLE

Find a way of making it sexy, glossy

Commission a television programme ‘Small Acts with Large Consequences’

JOY a key word – join the Order of Joyful Women!

But being joyful does not mean we can’t be angry.