Monday, 12 November 2012

RADAR 2012 at The Bush Theatre: One Idea That Could Change Our Theatrical Landscape

Written by: Tom Woods (@Thomas_E_Woods)

Bush Theatre, London

Wednesday the 7th of November marked the start of the Bush Theatre’s RADAR 2012 platforms. Kicking off with ‘one idea that could change our theatrical landscape’ they run until the 22nd of November, and include sneak peaks of some fantastic new writing. If you haven’t already, I cannot urge you strongly enough to get a ticket and attend.

The opening night started with an address from the Bush Theatre’s Artistic Director Madani Younis. Both charming and funny at the same time, he welcomed us to RADAR 2012, and informed us of the exciting new direction the Bush is heading in with brand new writing. At current the Bush reads through over 2000 new scripts per year, shortlisting and shortlisting further in a process that is slow and detached from the playwrights.  The conversion rate of these to produced plays is less than 0.1% and not only that, but staff at the Bush theatre feel that they want to demonstrate a greater commitment to producing the work of unrepresented playwrights. As such the policy is changing so that, rather than accepting submissions throughout the year, the Bush will have submission periods open for a limited period of 3 months. There will be a lot more engagement with the playwrights, as they will be invited in to the Bush to develop their work, and through this process, the Bush aims to put on at least one play by an unsought playwright per year from 2014. The full guidelines will be out in January, but this feels like a very exciting direction that will offer far more support to up and coming playwrights.

Following Madani’s announcement the platform begins. The brief: one idea that could change our theatrical landscape. First up, Dan Rebellato, playwright and academic at Royal Holloway University of London.  His idea is “stop lying” simply put; he feels that in the theatre world we lie to playwrights and ourselves, leading to cautionary tales of mistrust. He argues that we need to stop pretending that a ‘writer’s theatre’ is either achievable or desirable, and that it is often impossible to put on a play as a playwright intends.

Second up is Chris Goode, writer and theatre maker. His idea is that we “need to stop making things”. It is a very impassioned speech that came across as a love letter to theatre and creativity. He argues that we go to the theatre because we want more meaningful relationships with people, and that theatre is merely a construct that we use in order to facilitate this. Everything to do with it, from marketing, ticketing and the rest is all there because we want relationships with people, including people we don’t know yet, but feel unable to do this without a ‘thing’ as an excuse. He went on to speak of his dream to create 24-hour theatre, with audiences coming and going as they please and striving to give an audience more.  

Artistic Director of Graeae, and the Paralympic opening ceremony, Jenny Sealey, came next. Opening with “some things that have been said to me” and consisting primarily of quotes from various industry professionals for the next ten minuets, she shone a light on the horrific nature of working in the theatre with a disability. Her discussion ranged from “if you are working in normal theatre do you still need to audition disabled actors?” to “my audience would be offended if they saw someone like you on the stage”; these statements aren’t particularly old either, with some of them coming from as soon as a year ago, or even more recent. London 2012 championed inclusivity more than ever this year, and the Paralympics in particular have proven year after year that disability doesn’t bar anyone from achieving their potential. Why then is the theatre industry so backwards? Jenny raised very interesting and important points, and hopefully more people will take note.

Overall, the opening night showed a promising start to what should be a very interesting and fascinating few weeks of events at the Bush Theatre. 

RADAR 2012 runs until 22 November 2012. 
@BushTheatre #RADAR2012

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