What do they know of theatre who only theatre know?
Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Although the orthodoxy has been that cuts in arts budgets are bad, for obvious reasons, there is also a strand of opinion that the new age of austerity offers opportunities as well as threats. A good example of this imaginative thinking is playwright Fin Kennedy, who in a Guardian article says, “I have a theory that, as the theatre industry contracts, more and more artists – in particular playwrights – will find a welcome reception in schools.” In fact, for a number of years now, playwrights and other theatre-makers have been finding sources of funding outside the traditional system of Arts Council grants or theatre commissions. Some, like Kennedy, have successfully embedded themselves in the education sector; others have drawn on funds from the health budget or community sources or from other institutions. But there is still room for more of this lateral thinking: after all, a resident playwright could fulfill a similar function to that of a resident poet, and don’t big corporations have plenty of those? The most delicious irony of all would be to become a resident playwright in a major bank.
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.