Why Theatre Matters in 2020

Writing for Theatre changed my life.

Something must be done to help UK theatres survive this crisis. I want to tell you why it is important to me and why doing something now really matters.

Bringing together actors and audiences is one of the most intrinsically creative acts. A play is not the same every performance. Not exactly the same each successive performance – an experience never to be repeated and one, truly shared. And good theatre remains in your consciousness – an incredible play remains in the conscious of communities and societies. It might take time for the effects of this to take hold. The evidence is a powerful reminder of why theatre matters. Our society feels and acts a little different. Think about a play like Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem or Sarah Kane’s Blasted. They have gone on to reward repeat stagings for audiences around the world.

I remember my own first plays – as a member of the audience: State of Revolution by Robert Bolt; as a playwright, Soft, as part of the North West Playwright’s Workshops at Manchester’s Contact Theatre in 1987.

What theatre means to me

I believe in the contribution theatre makes to our knowledge, wealth and well-being. Good theatre entertains us, great theatre creates a climate for debate. We improve our society and our lives by going to the theatre. There is nothing quite like it, indoors or out: proscenium arch or in the round; thrust stage or end-on in a black box; West End; regional; national; local; rural; international and immersive.

Yes, Theatre helps me to earn a living as a writer and marketer but it also gives me great pleasure and a deeper connection to people and their communities.

It does not matter if you are seeing live theatre for the first or the hundredth time. It is an often a visceral experience. And the buzz just before a performance begins is highly addictive. The play can have successive productions, home or abroad. New directors, performers and technicians will bring their own skills and imaginations to bear.

Why you should care

In 2018 more than 34 million people chose to see a professional theatre performance in the UK. Resulting in a clear demonstration of just how important the industry is to the UK economy. 34 million people have developed a habit that gives them new perspectives, pure joy or simply an escape. People who enjoy live theatre are more likely to have better mental health.

And now, in 2020, live theatre in our many and varied theatre venues will collapse. More steps must be taken to manage the devastating effects of the virus control, many theatres will be lost forever. Already, some of our best known regional venues have already gone into administration or given notice that without an injection of cash they will have to close.

If you’ve never experienced live theatre, you might find some of this over the top. If you’ve had bad experiences or just find the whole idea pointless, dull or perhaps just not for you, you might want to reflect on what theatre does for the UK.

UK Theatre contributes £39 billion to the UK economy. Actors who learn their craft as performers in theatre are likely to go on to perform in television, film and radio productions. It is a vital part of UK society. Please don’t let theatres close forever.

What you can do

Help keep theatres open in the UK by writing to your MP. Ask them to put pressure on the government to create stronger measures to protect an industry that through no fault of its own is now in peril. And not just theatres – music venues too.

Act now, by signing a petition here and help change policy. Something must be done to help UK theatres survive this crisis, and soon.

If you don’t want to do it for yourself maybe think about doing it for others, your own family and friends and for future generations.

Space 1, Contact Theatre, Manchester

Stay With Me takes you from the macabre to the fantastic, highlighting the incremental changes in disparate lives. Each character navigates changing worlds, circumstances and memories. Compelling, strange and heartfelt, Stay With Me brings together the best of a darkly humorous mind.

Please follow and like

Leave a Reply