Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Theatre by diktat

In The Guardian, Peter Gill argues that top-down thinking has created a new form of censorship on new play writing.
The embarrassment caused in the theatre by Channel 4's recent programme The Play's the Thing, which showed a vain attempt to manufacture a West End play from the early offerings of first-time writers, should prove salutary. But I doubt it will. The programme presented in caricature form a set of now common practices, ways of handling new writers, and the desire to create theatre by diktat.

The new interventionism seems to have begun around 1979 as part of a proliferation of new ideas - devised theatre, documentary, attempts at new forms, physical theatre - that had their roots in the 60s. The emphasis on top-down thinking, rather than anything created writer-up, meant that a new form of censorship began to impose itself. This has led to young writers delivering drafts instead of plays, knowing the humiliation that lies in store.

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