Cutting Edge: British Theatre in Hard Times (2015)

Cutting Edge:  British Theatre in Hard Times
Central St Martins, King’s Cross, London
Saturday, 25 April 2015, 10.00am-6.00pm

A conference considering the fortunes of British theatre since the last election.

Cutting Edge: Theatre in Hard Times
Photograph © Tristram Kenton.

In 2007 at our conference, How Was It For Us?, we asked what happened to theatre in the Blair years. Now we ask what’s changed under the coalition – for better or worse. In this one-day conference, organised by the British Theatre Consortium and hosted by the MA in Dramatic Writing at Central St Martin’s, a group of leading theatremakers and thinkers reflected on the fortunes of British Theatre since the 2010 General Election. The arts have been subjected to substantial cuts in funding; newspapers have been firing theatre critics; evidence suggests that the arts are being drained from the school curriculum; concerns continue to be raised about theatre’s diversity, in the audience and onstage. And yet, there are success stories; audiences have held up strongly; the percentage of new work is higher than it’s been for a century; there seems no diminution of the quality of new plays, great productions, and extraordinary performances. Is this all against the odds? Or has the theatre found new purpose and power in the age of austerity?

Speakers included Adjoa Andoh (actor), Kate Bassett (critic), Suzanne Bell (Royal Exchange), David Brownlee (UK Theatre), Chris Campbell (Royal Court), Giles Croft (Nottingham Playhouse), David Edgar (playwright), David Eldridge (playwright), Chris Goode (performance maker), Christopher Gordon (Rebalancing our Cultural Capital), David Greig (playwright), Sarah Grochala (playwright), Fin Kennedy (Tamasha), Lucy Kerbel (Tonic), Phyllida Lloyd (director), Chris Megson (Royal Holloway), Elizabeth Newman (Bolton Octagon), Mimi Poskitt (Look Left Look Right), Dan Rebellato (playwright, Royal Holloway), Joe Sumsion (Dukes, Lancaster), Laura Wade (playwright), Sam West (actor), Erica Whyman (RSC), Julie Wilkinson (playwright, MMU), Roy Williams (playwright), Jane Woddis (theatre researcher).

This conference was organised by the British Theatre Consortium, hosted by the MA in Dramatic Writing at Central St Martin’s, and kindly supported by the Writers Guild.