Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Inexcusable New Writing pile-up

A funny thing seems to have happened to British theatre, and it turns out that it has rather dire consequences for writing about it. The problem is this: the Royal Court is now turning out so much work that you could have seen something new there every night last week. There is also the problem of the brilliant atmosphere. Every night you turn up there now, you probably bump into a minimum of five people you know. The nights are warm, the bar is cheap(-ish), and so rather than scurrying back to your cold, dark flat and writing luminous copy about the trove of riches being displayed there, you end up sitting outside, drinking white wine, and discussing the plays with your friends like a normal person. Lovely. But not very productive. Especially when the knock-on effect is a week of hangovers rather compromising one’s morning efficiency.

Another slightly different problem is *how* to write about work being tossed out at this speed. We know, for example, that Caroline Steinbeis’s production of Mintwas rehearsed in only a week. One week! I mean, I thought it was pretty sodding good, full stop. But knowing it was made in a week changes your relationship to it. And knowing it’s only on for a week also changes your relationship to a piece of work.

And if that feels extreme, the four pieces I saw from Anthony Neilson’s Collaboration workshops were workshopped, written, rehearsed and performed after only eleven and twelve days respectively. And each shown only once.

Similar processes might also have played a part – to varying degrees – to the initial writing of the pieces included in the retrospective of Joel Horwood short plays, Short and Stark. I’m not sure where any of these were first shown – perhaps as parts of short play events run by groups like the Miniaturists or DryWrite.

[Below are reviews of all the above, or you can jump to particular reviews using the above links...]

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