Posts Tagged ‘RSC’

Audience development is important not only because it’s vital to the survival of theatre, but also because it completely effects the theatre-going experience.

Last Friday, I went to see Much Ado About Nothing by the RSC  in their shiny new theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon. I expected, rather naively on reflection, that the audience would reflect the very modern design. Sadly not. It was like waking up in the 50s next to the Jonses and their new Teasmade.  I have absolutely no problem with people of any age or background going to the theatre; what I have a problem with is people who feel they should go to the theatre because that’s what middle class people do. Why bother? Surely just stay at home and watch Coronation Street if that’s what you’d prefer? People need to have a REAL reason to want to go to the theatre– not just because they feel they should.  I’ve noted before the over-funding that this causes in the world of opera and other socially-enhancing-art-forms, and the RSC and National Theatre aren’t exempt from this. Their cuts in the Arts Council RFO portfolio were minimal, and Artistic Director Michael Boyd said that they’d cope… not the reaction of hundreds of other organisations crippled by the cuts.

But, I’m going over old ground… the real point is that the RSC should not be complacent about audience development, and should always seek to find ways of attracting new and future audiences into the theatre, while not forgetting those who have always been loyal. To do this theatre practitioners need to take a step back and look seriously at what they’re competing against, both in terms of successful commercial theatre and other entertainment sources: cinema, TV, games etc.  Admittedly the RSC has taken the brave step of once more delving into the world of musical theatre– presenting Matilda in London– and I suspect that this was largely a well crafted way of generating income, one that should be applauded nonetheless. But, producing musicals will not alone solve the problem of attracting future theatre audiences; I’m referring to the hard to reach audiences, people who have never been into a theatre, people who have always thought that theatre ‘wasn’t for them’. Intelligent producing and clever marketing can help attract these people. Practitioners should look at what makes West End shows appeal: theatre technology, visual effects and the universal language of music. Riverdance, to a cerain extent, achieved this in the 1990s– it put together a series of elements that were perfect for the love of neoliberalism and Postmodernism that we saw in the 90s. Which brings me to my final and most important point: Reinvention (with a capital R). I don’t believe that theatre should be created in the style of a long dead playwright. Each generation should endeavour to reinvent their theatre environment in a continual cycle of progression and modernisation; just as technology and time never stand still neither should theatre.

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Matilda is opening on Broadway in 2013! Excellent news! Really hope the RSC will be producing… can’t really see why they wouldn’t. A friend at the RSC tells me that Tim Minchin wrote loads more songs -so many apparently that the producer told him to stop. I’m very interested to see whether any of them make it into the show. I expect that the West End cast will stay in London… I’m specifically referring to the wonderful Bertie of course… He’s in workshops for the upcoming Bridget Jones Musical playing Mark Darcy, and will presumably take the role when (/if) it enters production… Would be good to see Bridget here in time for London 2012… IF for no other reason than to prove Lord Lloyd W wrong, that tickets will sell and (despite the huge damage to arts infrastructure that the olympics has caused) will actually be good for London and the arts… for a few weeks anyway…

I don’t review shows often here because I rarely see anything I enjoy enough. However:

I went to see Matilda the Musical at the beginning of November, I had been anticipating it for a while, and meant to see it at the Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon where it premièred last year, being temporarily immersed in Sligo (like water or mud) prevented me. Anyway. I arrived after a mad rush down Earlham Street, and took my seat very conscious that I could be soon very disappointed. I wasn’t.

Matilda the musical is the best night I’ve spent in the theatre, clever, entertaining, original and faithful to the book. It captured perfectly, Roald Dahl’s mischievous humour. I realise by this point that everyone has talked about Bertie Carvel but I have to as well. He turns Miss Trunchball into a fully rounded, utterly despicable, 3D character with every bit as much depth  as Hamlet. Unlike Hamlet, Miss Trunchball is a character you want to watch. Musicals with this level of intelligence and craft are rare, the West End is filled with plotless jukebox musicals, movie adaptations and outdated long runners. It’s great to see something original for a change.

I can’t list everything that I loved about this show, just go see it, I’d imagine it’ll be extending for a few years to come and I can’t recommend it enough.

I sincerely hope that Tim Minchin and Dennis Kelly continue to work together, the West End is safe in their hands.

I missed the performance by the RSC, but thought I’d read the play anyway. I’m not sure why writers feel they need to swear so much on stage, I find it a bit embarrassing… My language is fairly profane in person, but in my writing I rarely swear, it becomes less believable I think and also restricts the expression and renders if less effective… Interestingly I do think there’s a difference between swearing on stage and on film… As film is (in many cases) supposed to be a visual representation of ‘a life’ or ‘lives’ it sits better, and generally I wouldn’t bat an eyelid if a character came out with a long line of profanities, but on stage it just looks like the writer is trying too hard.

Literally every second word in The Gods Weep is a swear word. Which is most definitely overkill. I found it distracted me from the plot with the result that I didn’t notice it was a reworking of King Lear until the death of the mirror character of Cordelia at the end. On the whole it was a good piece of work, but I wonder how it would have sat with the hideously middle class RSC audiences? Would they have embraced each ‘c word’ as ‘valid vocabulary in the execution of art’? or winced with horror every time? Maybe I’m straying perilously close to being classist. I’ll get off my soap box now. It was good, though maybe fewer profanities wouldn’t be a bad thing…