Theatre in Wales

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A LEADING theatre director has pledged to resign his post if his company does not receive more widespread support.

Peter Doran, artistic director of the Torch Theatre in Milford Haven, says he is not alone in feeling demoralised by the state of theatre in Wales.

Speaking at a conference in Cardiff arranged by the Wales Association of Performing Arts to discuss the crisis in English language theatre in Wales, Mr Doran said regional producing theatres needed to join forces in order to bring more new live work to people all over the country.

But he dismissed recent calls by some practitioners for the establishment of a national theatre for Wales as "ludicrous".

Mr Doran, who has been at the Torch for six years, said, "I can only go on so long with the way things are going and I've told the board at Milford Haven that if the situation doesn't improve I won't be there this time next year.

"Ten years ago the Torch used to produce eight shows a year and now we're down to three. We're producing decent work but the odds are stacked against us.

"It's like asking a painter to work with one hand and only using one colour.

"I'd like to be in a position to produce work I want to produce and work that I feel audiences want rather than shows I can afford.

"Mid-scale producing theatres in Wales, like the Torch and the Sherman, want to work at optimal capacity but we can't and it's demoralising to put in all the effort for little return."

Mr Doran, who runs one of three producing theatre companies in Wales - the others being the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff and Mold's Clwyd Theatr Cymru - claims there needs to be more synergy between companies in order for the home-grown theatre industry to flourish once again.

"I believe we can all assist each other," he said.

"We at the Torch should be producing theatre for all the venues in Wales, not just our own.

"We currently do three shows a year and could do more but because of a lack of funding we can't.

"We need to work more closely with project companies such as Mappa Mundi to make more work.

"The people who are involved in making and running theatre in Wales are working under terrible conditions."

Mr Doran's comments come in the same week as professionals involved in new writing in English for the stage in Wales approached theNational Assembly with alitany of concerns. More than 50 playwrights - both emerging and established - supported a document called State of Play.

This calls on the Assembly and the Arts Council of Wales to take immediate action to cultivate the work of playwrights in Wales and to give them more of a platform for audiences to experience their work.

Speaking at the conference, playwright Charles Way added his support to the ideas contained in the document.

He said that instead ofsome high-profile members of the arts fraternity concerning themselves with the concept of a national theatre, more needed to be done to secure better opportunities for Welsh and Wales-based playwrights.

Mr Way, who is writing a play for the Imagination Stage in Washington, made a passionate plea for a dedicated space to new writing, possibly set up in Cardiff.

He said, "This space should not only be a showcase for the best new work in Wales but also host new work fromelsewhere," he said.

"Every other nation has a year-round dedicated centre for new writing. "Why don't we?"

As expected, a major talking point at the conference was the debate on whether Wales needs a national theatre.

An idea proposed by both Clwyd Theatre Cymru's chief Terry Hands and international director Michael Bogdanov, the arts council's chairman Geraint Talfan Davies recently added weight to the proposal by calling for an established theatre production base rooted in the main centre of population and working in the English language.

Currently, however, there are no funds available for such a provision.

More than 40% of ACW's £5.89m investment in theatre this year is going to Theatre in Education projects and a further 20% is being invested in Welsh language theatre with the creation of Theatr Gened-laethol Cymru, a national theatre working solely in the Welsh language
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Tuesday, December 09, 2003back

 

 

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