Convener(s): Stella Duffy Participants: Stella Duffy, Annie Lloyd, Moira Buffini, Mark Wakely, lily Pendes, Trisha Lee, Kirsty Lothian, Susannah Clapp, Michael Spencer, Jeff Teare, Kathy Jayce, Chloe Lomford, Lewis Barfoot, Anthony Bliss, Paula Jones, Kirstie Davis, Lucinda Loxon, Laura Cubitt, Tassos Stevens, Chris Wright, Lynn Forkes, Lian Bell, Robert Bathurst, Sara Jane Bailes, Carrie Thomas, Richard, Amelia Bird, Jim Pope

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

We would like a discussion between ‘straight’ and ‘devised’ theatre. We are missing chances and liaisons and benefits by not talking to each other enough. We don’t like those terms. “Straight’ theatre usually means theatre in which practitioners have assigned roles. Devised theatre usually means those roles aren’t so set. We think there is defensiveness and arrogance on both ‘sides’. We wish there weren’t sides. We would like both ‘sides’ to be accorded the same respect/funding. We realised there were subsets of this discussion and broke into four groups : education, funding, language, and a more amorphous concept of audience/performer-performance. These groups reported :

Education : We need to start right at the beginning, in primary schools, so that the earliest audiences learn that theatre can be play and not just learning, that it need not be curriculum-based, and that there are various roles within the making of theatre from the beginning. We, as practitioners – and audiences – need to understand what different jobs/roles there are. Less mainstream curriculums would be very useful. We need to re-educate established theatre figures in other less traditional models. The writer needs to take more responsibility for integrating themselves in the process of making work. Get people (children) to ‘make’ plays before they even starting reading ‘plays’

Funding : Could we have a voluntarily paid/openly declared tax, somewhere between 1-1.5% of income of any production that is paid into a big pot, redistributed to new work, the amount to be based on the necessities of that work’s creative process. (from the dead writers’ levy idea) And unsold tickets to be given free to a theatre practitioner, on the agreement that that practitioner will write and publish a review of that show. Reclaim the commercial – start calling panto (etc) made or devised. Funded companies/buildings, doing more traditional work, should have the responsibility to take on a made/devised-work company. All buildings should take on a company/practitioner/artist-in-residence that does what they usually don’t. (eg. Donmar supports a made work company, BAC take on a writer in residence …)

Language : The language we currently use is problematic. Devised/made/created/free/new and mainstream/old/traditional and new writing/old writing etc etc We need a new language that will (eventually, no doubt slowly) filter through – we suggest : Fluid and Specific. People making work where the roles are Fluid, and people making work where the roles are Specific. With an awareness that even within those groups, the roles may change. These terms, as with all the ones we currently use, still need to find a way to be understood by the general public – the audience.

Performers and Audience : The play (show/end product) is the thing. Whatever version of theatre we come from, as an audience we are all the same. The audience don’t care how we make it. What they care about is that it works for them. On the whole we feel positive, that change does and has happened, and that we can make it better. With developments in education, funding, language and as practitioners and audience.