What do they know of theatre who only theatre know?
Monday, 28 June 2010
Jeremy Hunt, the new Culture Secretary, began his tenure of high office on a wave of popularity, with many in the arts world falling over themselves to praise his sagacity, his knowledge and his good sense. But the honeymoon didn’t last long. Today, he managed to score a stupid own goal: talking about England’s poor world cup performance, he put his foot into it nicely: he said he was “incredibly encouraged by the example set by the England fans. I mean, not a single arrest for a football-related offence, and the terrible problems that we had in Heysel and Hillsborough in the 1980s seem now to be behind us.” Oh dear, Hillsborough is not the same as Heysel — although they do both begin with the same letter. Hunt has apologised, but the blunder doesn’t bode well. I mean the phrases “subsidising the arts” and “slashing the arts” also begin with the same letter, but they really are not the same thing!
Aleks Sierz is author of In-Yer-Face Theatre: British Drama Today (Faber, 2001), The Theatre of Martin Crimp (Methuen Drama, 2006), John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger (Continuum, 2008), Rewriting the Nation: British Theatre Today (Methuen Drama, 2011) and Modern British Playwriting: The 1990s (Methuen Drama, 2012). He is editor of The Methuen Drama Book of 21st Century British Plays (2010) and co-editor (with Martin Middeke and Peter Paul Schnierer) of The Methuen Drama Guide to Contemporary British Playwrights (2011). He is a member of the UK Critics' Circle and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts. A journalist, broadcaster and theatre critic at large, he is also Senior Research Fellow at Rose Bruford College and teaches postwar British theatre at the London branch of Boston University.