Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Open Space 4 - New /Innovative Theatre - what does this mean?

Convenor – Vicky Ireland

Are there set (old) perceptions that need constantly challenging in order to create the new?
Is the old, (the well-made play) not good enough? Why do we have to change and challenge it constantly?
Using new approaches is one dimension towards creating exciting theatre, but is new only about "wowing" people?
New can be superficial. New is tied to consumerism. New is the "old" new.
When does new stop being new and become old? Why is some old good and some old bad? Who decides?
New creates a lot of waste. We don't revisit, because we won't get funding, no "second time production" monies, - thousands of plays just blowing in the wind.
Can't we hang onto the good for longer? Europe continues doing our new writing longer than we do.

We must be careful innovation doesn't simply address form, but also content.
We can't divorce form from content
Yes, we are looking for new voices but form should serve content, otherwise we are creating novelty. That's not enough, is it?
Or, are we too puritanical about novelty? Perhaps we have a problem with pleasure. We demand that Art has to be more than just having a good time. Why?

Experimental Theatre was the old definition of innovation.
Experimentation is vital but must be thought through.
A collaborative team has to work together and managerial structures can serve playwriting poorly.

The work of Punchdrunk (Faust, Mask of the Red Death - site specific with promenade/dance performances, very strong on atmosphere) was cited as both new and innovative and it was acknowledged although some may be
uncomfortable about the head-on relationship of the performers with the audience, the work had to be acknowledged as inspiring.

Has performance art done our world a disservice - has it given innovation a bad name?
Is some sort of cultural sense needed to establish an over-view, in order to recognise what's new and/or innovative against the "old?"
Not everybody works by the same rules -
Not everybody sees all the work and what is being achieved -
New is a lazy word.

Are we caught between the Scylla of the funders and the Charybdis of the critics?
Funders are pre-occupied with audience, constantly urging work to "be new" in order to reach a new generation.
Does new achieve anything other than impress and pander to the jaded pallet of the critics?
The press creates labels which don't always help.

Innovation is often linked to science and technology because all the other arts forms we link to are "old."

Is it wonderful synergy that we're seeking?
Robert Wilson's "H.G." was mentioned as a brilliant example of this, where we were invited to be a child again, to rediscover our senses and see where they took us, to play.

Theatre has to move especially for the next generation, how do we get them in?
What do we do that doesn't involve them "sitting in a proscenium arch space listening to bits of papyrus?"
We need to get fun and excitement back, but not over-excite the young so that they run amuck!
Young people are the "I want to have it now," generation.
They are flocking to concerts and music is primal. Why can't theatre have this effect?

How do we make wonderful, dynamic, irresistible work, that is neither old nor young, just good?
Quality ingredients, craft in motion, uplifting vision and two fingers to funders and critics.

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