THEATRE / David Benedict on Theatre

Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online
West End theatre is currently comprises 17 musicals, seven revivals, three adaptations, a French farce, a thriller, a variety act and four new plays. Two of those new plays were nurtured within the subsidised theatre: Dead Funny and Arcadia (with Felicity Kendal, below). The other two, 900 Oneonta and The Cryptogram, are American. There is also a case to be made for Sue Townsend's adaptation of her own novel, The Queen and I. The days when far-sighted literary agents a la Peggy Ramsay could feed and water young talent and place new plays with West End managements seem long gone. New writing happens outside the West End or not at all. Too many fingers have been burnt and shirts lost.

Producers are not in the business of self-sacrificing philanthropy. Why should they risk everything on unknown work when they can pick up successes from the subsidised theatre, thereby lessening the risk. Even when they do chance their arm, it only takes a heatwave to make the audience figures slide beneath the break-even point and for shows to close.

Thus it is good news to learn of a direct link between West End management and subsidised theatre, with Janet Holmes a Court of Stoll Moss Theatres sponsoring the Verity Bargate Award. If you can't risk producing brand new scripts, then at least you can help discover the talent and nurture another generation of playwrights.

(Photograph omitted)