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Devoted & Disgruntled 12: What Shall We Do About Theatre and the Performing Arts Now?

ESSEX

Phil Cleaves - 15 January 2017

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Essex
Called by Phil Cleaves

4 out 5 had worked with Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch.

Present at the start: Phil Cleaves helps organise the Havering Fun Palace at Queens Theatre and is starting a pop-up theatre project in empty shops in Brentwood. Ros Philips had directed the community musical and will be directing Educating Rita.

Phil and Ros discussed the ‘establishment’ audiences and makers that are strongly engaged with theatre in Essex. Chatted about challenging those established ideas with new ideas and fresh faces.

Phil spoke about his empty shop pop up theatre and how to engage different spectators to the theatre. Ros recommended looking at the work of Time Won't Wait and their piece Funny Peculiar as a way of generating material from local voices.

Joined by Loren O'Dair who performed in Made in Dagenham at Queen's theatre. Chatted about her positive experience of the audiences for Made in Dagenham. All agreed that it was powerful political theatre because it was entertaining and held local relevance. Loren spoke of the way that the show sparked active responses from the audience.

Joined by Adrienne Quartly a freelance sound designer who has worked at the Queen's since the arrival of the new artistic director Douglas Rintoul. She spoke of her positive experiences of Doug and his vision for change. Adrienne also spoke about the warmth of welcome she felt from the Queen's theatre community.

Joined by Marianne Powell, a writer from London considering Essex as a possible place to move to. The group talked about the exciting work that Doug was doing at The Queen's especially in his openness to welcome new people. Also talked about the strong Arts scene in both Southend and Colchester as a selling point for Essex.

Essex is a brilliant and fascinating place - it is huge but it is often narrowed to stereotypes. The people are warm and welcoming but often are seen as being quite closed off and insular because large parts of the county traditionally vote for the more right wing parties (except Colchester). It can often be thought of as an extension of London (which it definitely is when you are trying to encourage audiences to venture their on the train) but it is absolutely different. In post-EU referendum terms it is quite a strong vote leave area. In all kinds of ways Essex is a place full of conflicts and contradictions that make it an exciting place to make theatre.

Come to visit Essex. Come to the theatre in Essex! We look forward to meeting you.

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