All Together Now? British Theatre after Multiculturalism
Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th June 2009
University of Warwick, Coventry
|All Together Now Conference Report available here.|
Under Labour, a consensus has emerged that the arts should challenge social exclusion, celebrate diversity and – now – contribute to a reassertion of Britishness. Theatre in particular was seen as a place where people could be brought together to explore what they had in common. But is there not a contradiction between diversity and national identity? Should theatre be a site of challenge rather than cohesion? If multiculturalism has run its course, should theatre be in the business of defining national identity? And if so, how?
The British Theatre Consortium hosted a two-day conference on this topic in June 2008 at Warwick Arts Centre debating theatre’s relationship with the community, with identity politics, with the emergent nationalisms of Scotland and Wales, Britain ’s minority cultures and our national history. It questioned what we know about who comes to the theatre (and why they come). The conference asked whether subsidized theatre has responsibilities, and, if so, what they are.
The line-up of speakers included playwrights Howard Brenton and Kwame Kwei-Armah, directors Richard Eyre (formerly of the National Theatre), Nick Kent (of the Tricycle Theatre, London) and Jonathan Church (formerly of the Birmingham Rep and now artistic director of Chichester), actor and director Sam West (formerly artistic director of the Sheffield Crucible), Munira Mirza (cultural policy director to the Mayor of London), Jude Kelly (chair of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad), Barbara Matthews of the Arts Council of England, and former theatre producer Ruth Mackenzie (now expert advisor at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport).
The acclaimed verbatim theatre show, The Caravan, by Look Left, Look Right also ran at the Warwick Arts Centre during the conference.
The British Theatre Consortium is organised by playwrights David Edgar, Steve Waters and Julie Wilkinson, playwright/academic Dan Rebellato and Warwick University’s Janelle Reinelt.
You can listen to podcasts of the conference hosted by the University of Warwick’s website here.
This conference was supported by generous contributions from
The University of Warwick
Royal Holloway University of London
11.00-13.00 Intro keynote and panel: A national narrative?
- Michael Boyd on Shakespeare’s Different Histories; Playwright Howard Brenton, director and actor Barrie Rutter.
14.15-15.45: Access schmaccess?
- Barbara Matthews (Arts Council of England), commentator Mark Lawson and Ed Vaizey MP (Conservative Arts spokesman)
16.15-17.45: Mistaken identity?
- Playwrights Alia Bano, Kwame Kwei-Armah and Ashmeed Sohoye, director Natalie Wilson and academic and writer Lynette Goddard.
18.30-19.30: Reception and book launch (hosted by Nick Hern Books)
19.30: Conference dinner.
10.00-11.30: Are we being served?
- Jonathan Church of Chichester Festival Theatre, Lisa O’Neill-Rogan of the Bolton Octagon, Stuart Rogers of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and director Simon Reade.
11.45-13.15: Offending the audience?
- Writer and comedian Stewart Lee, playwright Richard Bean, director Janet Steel, commentator David Aaronovitch and writer Kenan Malik.
- 14.15-15.45: A National theatre? Theatre and film director Richard Eyre, National Theatre of Scotland Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone, and Jude Kelly, chair of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.
15.45-16.00: Closing session.