Monday, June 27, 2005

Monsterist manifesto

Led by David Eldridge, a group of playwrights is campaigning for theatres to commission more large-scale work from new writers. They call themselves the Monsterists. David Eldridge explains why in The Guardian.
Monsterism may have started out as a moan but it is a positive, forward-looking campaign by writers to ask British theatre to raise its game. [Moira] Buffini speaks for all of us when she says: "Deluded though I may be, I am an optimist. If we playwrights work together we may effect a change. If we are allowed to give our imaginations free reign, if we have use of the same resources, the spaces, budgets, casts and directors that are usually reserved for the deceased, we may write the kind of plays that will attract a new audience. We all moan about tired old productions and dead theatre. We can only try to bring it back to life."
Like all good revolutionary groups, the Monsterists have a manifesto.
Monsterism is a theatre writers' campaign to promote new writing in the British theatre. It is a positive, forward looking movement that aims to create opportunities for British theatre writers to create large scale plays, for large stages.

The key aesthetic tenets of a monsterist work are:

· Large scale, large concept and, possibly, large cast

· The primacy of the dramatic (story showing) over storytelling

· Meaning implied by action (not by lecture)

· Characters caught in a drama (not there to facilitate a polemic)

· The exposure of the human condition (not sociology)

· Inspirational and dangerous (not sensationalist)

On a practical level the implications of the manifesto are:

· The elevation of new theatre writing from the ghetto of the studio "black box" to the main stage

· Equal access to financial resources for plays being produced by a living writer (ie equal with dead writers)

· Use of the very best directors for new plays

· Use of the very best actors for new plays

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