Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sky Arts to broadcast six live plays

Sky Arts has announced a new season of single plays to be broadcast live this summer.
Sky Arts Theatre Live! will see six highly successful authors make their debuts as playwrights collaborating with lauded directors and high-profile actors to create original plays, performed to a live audience in the purpose built Sky Arts Theatre Live! studio. The Sky Arts Theatre Live! company is led by artistic director Sandi Toksvig, and includes author Kate Mosse, actress Pauline Collins and director John Alderton.
Blogging for The Guardian, theatre critic Michael Billington welcomes the initiative but wonders why none of the writers are playwrights.
I'm all for widening the pool of dramatic talent, but writing a 30-minute play is a special skill that even hardened practitioners find difficult. And, while it's good to encourage novelists to write plays, there are surprisingly few notable precedents. It was one of George Devine's aims, when he set up the Royal Court in 1956, to get writers such as Angus Wilson, Nigel Dennis and Doris Lessing to turn their hand to drama. But it never quite worked. And if I were Toksvig, who seems to be the brains behind the current enterprise, I'd have turned to some of the abundant young talent knocking around the British theatre, such as Laura Wade or Alia Bano, as a source of supply.

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