David Lister: The Royal Court wants new short plays? Here are two on what's wrong with theatre
A founder member of The Independent David Lister joined the paper in 1986 as Assistant Home Editor. He became the paper's arts correspondent in 1988 and is now Arts Editor and writes a column each Saturday. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Saturday 10 March 2012
It's a fine idea of the Royal Court theatre to ask the public for plays of 100 words or fewer, plays that won't necessarily be staged but will be stuck up on the walls of the venue, in the bars, even in the toilets. I will, if I may, take up the challenge and offer a couple of 100-word plays in the hope that they might be displayed on the walls of the Royal Court.
Cry of the Anguished Young Theatregoer
Young theatregoer: You say you want new young audiences, but theatre prices can be horribly prohibitive, often £30 even in the balcony and nearly £80 in the stalls. How can we afford that? And on top of that you add a booking fee and even, God help us, a restoration levy.
Pompous producer: It's philistine to mention money. Think of the wonderful art you will be seeing. And what's £70 plus booking fee plus drink plus programme plus travel for a piece of wonderful art?
Young theatregoer: I think I'll wait for the DVD.'
Of course, there are all sorts of technicalities, not least casting, to be sorted. I'd quite like to see Carey Mulligan as the anguished young theatregoer and Simon Callow as the producer. But we playwrights so seldom get to see our wishes come true when it comes to casting. I'll leave it to the Royal Court, whether to put it on the stage or on the toilet wall. It knows best.
I'm not sure if the Royal Court will allow two efforts, but in the hope that this most challenging of all theatres will want to encourage debate, I will submit a second.
Cry of the Puzzled Theatregoer in Olympics Year
Puzzled theatregoer: Why are a number of theatres, including the Tricycle and some of Andrew Lloyd Webber's venues, closing down while the Olympics are on? I am puzzled.
Defeatist director: Well, we think that people will either be watching the athletics on TV, or avoiding the traffic problems and staying home.
Puzzled theatregoer: But surely you of all people should have faith that theatregoers will prioritise going to the theatre?
Defeatist director: Nope. Unless I can get Usain Bolt to play Hamlet, I'm shutting up shop.
Over to the Royal Court they go. I won't hold my breath, but I know that my heart will beat a little faster next time I visit the toilets there.
Do we still need the Orange Prize?
The longlist for the Orange Prize for Fiction, which aims to reward and encourage women novelists, was announced this week. It includes such well known and acclaimed writers as A L Kennedy, Anne Enright, Ali Smith and Emma Donoghue, and an intriguing newcomer in Madeline Miller, a teacher of Latin and ancient Greek, who has taken 10 years to write a novel about the love between Achilles and Patroclus in the Trojan Wars.
When the Orange longlist is announced in a week that includes International Women's Day, it would be inappropriate for me to question whether fiction really does need a prize for women, worse still to claim that it is deeply patronising. Certainly, I think that there are art forms where women are appallingly badly represented (film directing being a notable example), but novel writing doesn't seem to be one of them. It's the wrong week to voice any such opinions. So, instead of an opinion, two statistics. In the WH Smith fiction charts this week, the top 20 hardbacks contain 12 by women; the top 20 paperbacks contains 13 by women.
How to make a melodrama out of a perfectly good sitcom
The excellent and innovative theatre company Kneehigh is to stage a version of Steptoe and Son at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds. Emma Rice, who is adapting and directing the version, said this week: "I've tried to enable and reveal the heartbreaking and perfectly observed characters that had generations glued to their TVs for over a decade."
Well, either Emma has a very soft heart or I have a very hard one. I must have watched most episodes of the sitcom. It's brilliantly funny and, yes, has great emotional insight, beautifully drawn characters, and can be moving on occasion. But my heart remains unbroken. Don't overstate the case, Emma. It's a genuine television classic, but heartbreaking it ain't and never was.
game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers
North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama
Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Lucy Hawking: Stephen Hawking's daughter writes impassioned open letter to Katie Hopkins about rights of disabled people
- 2 #NotGuilty: Second Oxford student writes of brutal rape by two men who then threw her in a bin as part of campaign against victim blaming
- 3 Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
- 4 Oxygen-starved 'dead zones' with no marine life up to 100-miles long discovered in the Atlantic Ocean
- 5 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
The C-Word - review: Sheridan Smith shines in a warm, honest adaptation of Lisa Lynch's book about living with cancer
X-Men Apocalypse: First look at Jubilee and Jean Grey played by Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner
American Horror Story: Hotel Angela Bassett set to make 'lots of trouble' with Lady Gaga in season 5
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 4 - review: Sansa is in danger of becoming another footnote in Westeros' bloody history
Adam Sandler's The Ridiculous Six: Make-up 'used to darken skin of actors to make them look Native American'
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils