The Big Goal: Making It For Everyone
I haven't written anything in here for six months nearly. I think that's probably a combination of being busy writing and buying a house and just general life but here we go...
We live in a time that is defined by divisionism. We are educated to blame other people for the lack of social progression we are experiencing in our lives; if there is a shortage of jobs the establishment tells us it's because of immigration, if there are cuts to be made in social welfare we're told it's because of the white working class, if there is a rise in crime we're told it's because of the pagan black community... The answer over all is obvious; a better government would have a better economy that meant there was more work for more people and less reliance on crime and social welfare to live.... but never the less we're taught it's our natural allies fault in our day to day society.
The same pattern emerges in theatre; the dialouge around the progression of theatre is focussed on individual battles. Obviously there is nothing wrong with this, per se, we have our own battles to win in order to win the rights and freedoms of our areas of concern and that is perfectly fucking awesome but the problem emerges when we lose sight of a total utopia. We as a community of theatre makers have to remember that the goal of theatre being a place where everyone feels welcome to make and watch is the most important thing we can be moving towards. That is what will save theatre. That is how we will become a voice for the WHOLE nation, we will sell more tickets, create more work, create more jobs and grow as humans, communities and societies. That's the goal. And that's where Midnight Movie and I Wanna Be Yours comes in.
I'm not going to talk about the plays as plays because I don't wanna get into critical response in terms of selling tickets (they're both finished anyway) but what I do wanna talk about is the big question that both these plays pose - how do we make the experience of going to the theatre for everyone?
Both of these productions have an inbuilt BSL language speaker. Not in the corner of the stage but actually weaved into the production; as part of the theatrical experience and I had one of those moments in both of those pieces where I went - why the fuck haven't we done this before? If the goal is to make theatre something that everyone feels welcome in why on earth don't we ask these questions all the time? Now I know it's probably "because money" but I also think it's probably, on a level, because white people with money and no physical variations are operating in isolation that we haven't asked these questions. We have to have a diversity leadership team in buildings is we're ever going to achieve this goal quite simply because no-one will ask the questions that need to be asked to make everyone welcome if those voices aren't in the room. The cost of non-diversity is the death of theatre. Quite simply.
Moving forward I think we should endeavour to keep this kind of question asking up in order to keep making theatre by everyone, interogated by everyone, in the hope of becoming FOR everyone and hopefully saving it from the drips and drabs of elitism. When that happens maybe we can be relevant again in the mass public. But it starts with these questions. And these questions will only be asked if we genuinely want to listen to each other in order to fulfil our big goal.
These questions aren't just about "how can we intergrate XYZ" it's also about form. How do we reimagine the experience of live story telling to feel like they belong to us all. How do we talk about it? How do our buildings reflect that? But we won't get there until we reimagine our goal away from box ticking and towards creating a utopia... But it's also fair to say that it's really encouraging that two plays doing this have been on at the same time on two of Londons biggest stages so the questions are clearly being asked.. It's just that we, as a community, have to adopt those questions and normalise them, and keep listening when people speak, if we're going to get anything done that's useful in moving theatre towards it's rightful place in the heart of british society.