Theatre in Wales

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Simon Harris writes to the Western Mail     

Ceri Sherlock's article in your paper attempts to justify his contribution to The Assembly's A Culture in Common. Indeed, much of its philosophy, in a general way, is very welcome. However, as in common with the report, when moving to specifics he sometimes becomes unbalanced and inaccurate.

Sir Richard Eyre did not argue in his speech to the Theatre 2001 conference that theatre was "beyond crisis, truly in denial" and "in the irrelevant realm of the mind-numbingly middle-class and boring." He said that "just as theatre can make you angry when it's bad, it can make you elated when it's good, and in an age that seeks to make all experience virtual and all art a commodity, there's a powerful case for an art form which can never dissolve the scale of the human figure, the sound of the human voice and our desire to tell each other stories."

It is no surprise to me that Ceri Sherlock currently has an antipathy to theatre, but I would prefer it if he did not try to tar all theatre with the same brush, just because he does not like some of the criticism he has been hearing. As Eyre went on to say, supposedly objective commentators are sometimes prone to cry out "theatre is dead" when what they really mean is "theatre is not for me."

Unlike the model of elitist and bourgeois theatre that Sherlock argues against, Sgript Cymru is a new company that was founded in May 2000 to be the national and bilingual contemporary drama company of Wales. It targets many of the priorities that A Culture In Common identifies - we have young writers groups, we have a successful Community Writer scheme, we discover, develop and present work on a nation-wide basis in both English and in Welsh, and next week we take two first-time writers to theatres in London to mediate a contemporary vision of Wales in the largest market-place for theatre in the world. Moreover, we are not the only ones who are struggling against the odds to deliver quality and excellence in the midst of the ongoing bureaucratic crisis created by mismanagement and under-funding in Wales.

In retrospect, therefore, Ceri Sherlock's comments perhaps give added weight to The Assembly's decision to "note" his report, rather than "adopt it," as he might have preferred.

Yours sincerely,

Simon Harris
Associate Director
Sgript Cymru.
Western Mail  
web site
Simon Harries
Monday, March 05, 2001back



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