Last week I was in London strange undoing of prudencia hart pdf a few days, doing some research. When I visit that city I always try to make time to visit the Royal Court bookshop.
So it’s possible when you visit to stock up on some great new writing for an affordable price. That’s exactly what I did last week, coming away with new work by Lucy Kirkwood, Martin Crimp, Polly Stenham, Bruce Norris, and Bola Agbaje. I’ve been struck by a few thoughts while reading through that new work. Agbaje, Stenham and Kirkwood, but also really interesting writers like Laura Wade and Alecky Blythe. Ireland, where women dramatists seem to find it more difficult to have their work put on.
I was also struck by the variety of styles and perspectives employed. Ireland where we rarely see new British and American plays. These plays were all produced by the Royal Court, and it’s only fair to say that this theatre does not necessarily represent the entire British theatre sector. And it’s showing no sign of abating. That’s particularly true in Scotland, where there are some brilliant new plays being produced.
Now, I know that every tourist risks idealising what he or she sees abroad, especially when those sights seem to contrast with deficiencies at home. And I am aware of the problems faced by the British theatre, especially in terms of funding and the desire of the British government to instrumentalise everything from education to culture. But there doesn’t seem to be quite the same level of excitement about new writing as would have been the case from, say, 1995 to about 2003. One explanation is that Irish theatre has taken to devising during that period. I don’t want to add to that debate except to say that I don’t think the distinction is all that necessary or helpful. Corn Exchange, but it’s also a brilliantly written play, for example.
Europe in introducing these practices anyway. But I do worry that we are missing out on the exciting work that is being written in the UK and to a lesser extent in the US. We’ve seen some of it, especially at the Galway Arts Festival which has in the last decade brought in new plays by Craig Wright, Bruce Norris, Bruce Graham, Che Walker, and David Greig. Ireland in the way that David Mamet did in the 1980s and early 1990s. I’m very excited by the devised work that’s being done in Ireland, especially by some of the younger companies. But I’m struck by the fact that there seems to be an imbalance now. I don’t see any evidence of any company producing a play that has already been produced professionally somewhere else.
And that hardly ever happens in the Dublin Fringe either. Irish writers, but also Irish productions of some of the great new work that’s appearing abroad. I really feel that Irish audiences and young theatre-makers would be inspired by this work: inspired to write new plays, inspired to visit the theatre more often. But they need to have access to it first. The arguments we’ve been hearing over the last few years about devised work are actually muddying the waters, I think.
We can continue to have great devised work and should appreciate and value it. But we should also do more to encourage the development of new plays, and to encourage the appreciation of what’s happening abroad. Possibly one of the best things I’ve read in ages, I’m dying for the rights to become available! No not yet but that’s another great example.