Is theatre in "The Thick Of It"

Cathy Westbrook, 19 September 2012

Present: Cathy W; Phoebe; Katie; Nancy; Jane; Pablo; Kene; Ellie; Tania; Estelle; Beth

Provocation was two-fold - do we need to be more politically engaged in our work AND is the theatre sector / establishment much like the scene in the TV show

Feeling that people have made work with a political essence which reflects personal interest e.g. working in public spaces; theme of kindness. But is there a need to be more overtly political? To give people a place to be together to discuss issues and not be afraid to vocalise them. Our civil liberties, the “left-wing” consensus have been eroded. There are no places for discussion, no shared language - does that mean there are no audiences for politically engaged work? Should we be actively providing those spaces? And encouraging people to _do_ something? (Work should have an outcome?) No-one wants to be lectured at (and that doesn't make good theatre) but there are ways of reaching people (e.g. piece at G&DF - outdoor, explaining the financial crisis).

Twitter and other social media don't necessarily give a space to really talk - just lots of superficial information, speeding past.
Have we self-censored over the years? Not allowing ourselves to be provocative (maybe scared for our careers?). Ended up with taboo subjects. But do we have a duty to povoke thought / reactions?

Structure of funding - R&D; sharings etc - leading to playing safe?

Is devised work less political than scripted? (and where are the great politically motivated writers?)
Young people are doing great things to retrieve the liberties we have gradually given up.

e.g. Belarus Free Theatre

Other thread was about the theatre establishment being like a scene from The Thick Of It - competition for funding making us all fight each other.

Is it a good thing that the spiral of increased funding is stopping? (We haven't always had almost unlimited state funding.)

Can we open up new strands of funding e.g. philanthropy. We need to be more involved with the wider political process - could we add admin time in in our budgets for meeting / networking etc


politics, Funding, funding, activism, establishment, self-censorship