Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Ravenhill: theatre must learn from modern art

Guild member Mark Ravenhill thinks UK theatre is too conservative, writes Matthew Hemley in The Stage.
[Ravenhill said] there was a “common understanding” that theatre today should look like the theatre of a century ago, and this had led audiences to expect plays to be narrative-based.

He said: “I think it’s still the case that there is a strange kind of disparity between what audiences expect in theatre and what they expect from, say, contemporary art. When you go to the Tate Modern you go with a very open mind, expecting something to be strange, shocking, playful and different. Whereas an audience still goes to the theatre and gets quite angry if there is not a clear story and clear characters. It’s a bit like going to the Tate Modern and asking which are the landscapes and which are the portraits.”


  1. G CASE10:47 am

    an excellent play by poet Glyn Maxwell, commissioned by Suzy Graham-Adriani for 'Connections', the writing for teenagers project she created for the National Theatre, did exactly what Mark advocates. She's also commissioned Simon Armitage some years earlier, and his approach to a naturalistic story was, as with Maxwell, surprising and original.

  2. Anonymous8:22 pm

    Sounds a fair comment on the surface. However, the comparison doesn't really stand up. I don't go to visit a piece of work in the Tate Modern, take a chair and watch it for an hour and a half. If I did, I would expect it to move, change, dissolve, reinvent itself and by the time I left, look like something completely different. What is narrative? In essence, it's causative change described or enacted and, yeah, we want that in the theatre.

  3. There are no hard and fast rules, theatre can be whatever it is, as long as it is true. Why
    shd the Tate M be a paradigm ?

    Beth Blake

  4. Anonymous11:08 pm

    Please could you define what you mean by "true", Elizabeth, when applied to theatre.


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