The Theatre of 2010 – My Hopes

December 31, 2009

Whilst people are making their New Year Resolutions, and institutes are celebrating what 2009 held for theatre listing the best of the best, and even the worse of the worse… I’m looking beyond all of this. We’ve already seen several Hot Tips appearing for theatre in 2010, and with new season announces each week the anticipation for the first big sellers is getting exciting. For me, I’m hoping 2010 will see the start of change in theatre.

So without further hesitation, here are A Younger Theatres’ Hopes for Theatre in 2010…

#1 Continued West End Ticket Sales – Recession was a hot topic on everyone’s lips during 2009. We saw numerous companies go into Administration and disappear off our high streets. Purses and wallets were firmly kept shut, yet somehow the West End saw an increase in ticket sales and remarkably out riding the recession. They say that theatre is a form of escapism and perhaps audiences were inclined to spend their money on musicals and plays to forget their woes. Whatever the reason, let’s hope that 2010 continues with the sales and theatre shows us what it is really made of during finical crisis.

#2 Lighting In The Lime Light – The forgotten talent in theatre. I hope that in 2010 lighting gets the recognition that it readily deserves, that critics take up their pen and paper and focus on how these wonderful shows they are writing about are seen through the designs painstakingly made by lighting designers. It’s as if this area of theatre gets completely lost in the lime light of the actors who are being lit. Lighting is atmospheric, stunning and highly creative – so lets see people talking about it more, instead of leaving it in the dark. (Let’s also hope the lighting puns/jokes stop too… lime light?! What was I thinking?)

#3 Younger People Breaking Through – The very nature of this blog is for myself to have a platform to express my thoughts and feelings on something that I completely adore. I admit wholeheartedly I am young, at 21 years old, and writing about theatre in the best fashion I can. 2009 has taught me that there is a gap within theatre that is slowly being filled with the younger generations, be it through youth theatres gaining greater success, or the new breed of playwrights getting younger. What I hope for though is that we start to see the written form of the younger generations as critics such as myself having a greater platform in discussing both theatre and the arts.  We might not have the many years of theatre under our belts like Billington, but we do come with passion and a whole new point of view. 2010, let it be the Year of the Younger Generations!

#4 Internships On Top – The recession might not have dampened ticket sales in the West End but jobs in the arts are drying up, where a single advertisement can get several hundred people applying. 2009 saw the boom in the Internship, something I discuss here. My hopes for 2010 is for Internships to continue with the increasing number of applicants but also to begin to evolve with this demand. Internships allow for much learning, but lets not squash that learning by it becoming the norm. Let 2010 keep Internships on top form.

#5 Ecofriendly Theatre – Our climate is changing, but what are theatres doing about it? The Arcola Theatre is one of the leading theatres in taking the green initiative and adapting their theatre to tackle climate change. I hope that 2010 sees other theatres taking up the greener side of theatre – LED Lights anyone? What more, I’d like to see bigger theatres doing their bit and proposing how they will tackle a more enviromentally friendly theatre for 2010.

#6 Social Media For Better – Phenomenons such as Facebook and Twitter have changed the way theatres are now engaging with their audiences. We saw the first devised opera through the means of Twitter – a great collaboration between audience and the Royal Opera House. Twitter has enabled theatres to tell us more, to give insights into what lies behind the walls, deep in the offices and backstage areas. It has allowed voices to emerge from the depths of theatres. Let’s hope 2010 brings more engagement with audiences through the joys of Social Media, and better improvement on how it is effectively used in marketing campaigns.

#7 The London Fringe Festival – The talk of the town after an announcement was made that there is to be the London Fringe Festival in August 2010. What can I say to this? My hope is simply this: The organisers realise that their attempts at putting on a Fringe Festival in London during August when the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is taking place is barbaric. If they want to make this a success, they have to base their model on something that is not already in place. My hope for 2010 is that this festival either completely flops or completely blows all our minds. Whatever the outcome – let it be a lesson learnt. (Let’s also hope for a better website, better organisation, and better ideas for this 2010 Fringe Festival…)

So here are a few of my hopes for the Theatre of 2010… what are your hopes?


The Live Spectacle

September 17, 2009

If there is one thing that I have learnt in the past few weeks is just how live theatre actually is. We often forget that the very nature of theatre is the live spectacle. Often with this spectacle we get completely engrossed in the theatre, the magic happening before our eyes that we forget altogether that there are a crew of people, ensuring that everything is running smoothly.

It might seem obvious to some of us theatre folk, but the very nature of theatre itself is extremely live and exciting. We forget that there is someone controlling the lights, someone pushing a ‘go’ button, people whispering cues to each other, and a whole host of activity that we don’t see. Theatre is quote frankly a well oiled machine that functions without anyone actually realising anything is happening at all (of course other than the acting on stage).

Yet with most machines there comes a time where things don’t always go right, the machine breaks, has a bad moment, and causes genuine chaos.

Whilst I will not disclose my place of work readily on here, this has most certainly been true the past week. With electrical issues spanning nearly a week, shows being disrupted by power cuts, lighting boards breaking and a whole host of other activities, it is no wonder that my thoughts turn to how the very nature of theatre is that of “THIS IS LIVE”.

Looking elsewhere it would appear that this reminder was equally echoed in a whole host of theatres in the past two weeks. The Arcola theatre suffered technical difficulties making the Shady Dolls performance of The Spoils during the Grimebourne Festival where they had to do the performance by the House Lights. Alas as they “the show must go on” rings rather true here.

Even more spectacular perhaps is how The National Theatre manage to be behind on their technical schedule, so much so that the first preview of the highly anticipated Mother Courage was left without a second half due to the lack of a technical run through. The difficulties meant that the press night for the show has been put back by a whole week, whilst they attempt to tweak and alter the technical aspects of the show in preparation.

Whilst time is something which plays against all theatre performances, and where there never seems to be enough time, it is quite surprising that a place such as the National Theatre can suffer from from time running out.

But there we have it. No matter what sort of theatre establishment you are, no matter how professional a show is, nor how much money a show might have behind it, theatre is a truly live event, and things most certainly don’t always go to plan.

Theatre, therefore, is live through and through (and we love it for this reason!).


Cleaning Up Your Act – Recycling in Theatres

July 24, 2009
The flyers of A Dolls House in a skip

The flyers of A Dolls House in a skip

What with the current climate of affairs around the world, you would have thought that businesses and companies around the world were pulling their weight with their efforts to do their bit in saving the environment. Although it can be difficult to recycle everything that is passed through a business the developments that we have gone through recently at least the ability for paper and cardboard to be recycled can be achieved easily.

Yet somewhere along the way it would appear that the Donmar Warehouse have bypassed the logic of recycling and instead attempted to dispose of their brochure/flyer by a bit of dumping in a skip. This picture has just broken into the Twitter-sphere via @jamesarnott, and quite frankly I am appalled by such obvious dumping of something which could easily be recycled.

It makes me call for theatres to seriously consider their attempts at recycling. It is down to a sheer lack of effort and laziness for not doing their part in the efforts of disposing of waste effectively.

However, this isn’t just a nag about the need for recycling because there are currently many theatres whose recycling polices are truly remarkable, and even their efforts to make their theatres as Green as possible.

High praise can go to the Arcola Theatre where their project titled Arcola Energy established in 2007 aims to make the Arcola Theatre the ‘worlds first carbon neutral theatre’. But beyond this they aim to offer help to other organisations in turning their waste into greener more productive methods to empower their companies. Perhaps the Donmar Warehouse could take a lesson from the Arcola Theatre?

Also the Arcola Theatres offers Green Sundays, where like minded people can come and meet, discuss ideas and relax in their eco-cafe and roof garden.

It is hard for theatres to truly be environmentally friendly with the sheer nature of energy which is consumed during performances and shows. The lights alone seep up a hefty electricity bill, without having to deal with costs of running heating/air con in huge auditoriums. But the least us theatre people can do is the ensure that recycling is done to the best of its abilities.

Remember even by recycling a single piece of paper, you are saving our environment from damage.

The Arcola Energy can be found on their website here and equally their Green Sundays can be found here.