Theatre in Wales

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From the Last Bastion of Empathy

At the Sherman

Joe Murphy on Nabokov, the Soho, the Old Vic, the Sherman , Theatre in the Time of Ruin , October 2, 2020
At the Sherman by Joe Murphy on Nabokov, the Soho, the Old Vic, the Sherman Tamara Harvey and Liam Ford-Evans have been the most regular and prominent media spokespeople for theatre over the last six months. Their clear yearning to be theatre before real people has been to the fore. In Aberystwyth Haka had performers on the street in August the week it was permitted. In Mold Theatr Clwyd had performances al fresco, albeit under conditions of severe restriction.

Wales Arts Review has performed a cultural service in catching the record of the Sherman. The voice of Joe Murphy, link below, crackles with energy. Candour in the arts matters and so too the personal impact of the larger events outside theatre.

It is an important and wide-ranging contribution to the record of the Year of Ruin.

The first section is autobiographical, beginning at age 11 with youth theatres in Bournemouth.

1:00: “I found a tribe, people like me, waifs and strays, I found a sense of place, sense of purpose.”

4:53: “I think the theatre is one of those last bastions of empathy and love and understanding. It gives an opportunity to walk in someone else's shoes, one of its most important functions.”

Names follow: an accidental meeting with Josie Rourke, Mike Bartlett, Simon Stephens, Jack Thorne, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, George Perrin, James Grieve, John Boyega, Ella Hicks, E V Crowe, James Graham, Steve Marmion.

The Bush Theatre- true to form as in Mike Bradwell's memoir- leaks.

9:21: “Theatres are there to serve. Paid for by the taxpayer, our job is to make people feel.”

11:50: “23,000 hits on our content over eight weeks.”

12:48: “To me writers are everything. If you can change the writer you change everything, they change the kind of story that is being told.”

19:50: At the Soho Theatre

23:48: “Matthew Warchus really believes in making the popular artistic and the artistic popular...We are in service to the audience...A massive learning curve. Popular and commercial don't have to be dirty words. If we get it right they are indicators for how we are doing.”

27:00: “Writers are ahead of us, in the territory that we are a bit afraid of. They will just march into the dark woods while we cling to the path.”

30:00: “I was frustrated by the Zoom window. I can't watch it any more. Audio is the next thing to experiment with...You can go wherever you want. Let's see if it can let our writers off the leash.”

32:57: “The Arts Council of Wales, I've been very impressed. This is an incredibly difficult situation to navigate, unprecedented. The Arts Council has stepped up, been supportive, got behind its artists, got behind its institutions and fought for us in government as well as on the ground. Mind-blowing, inspiring. We've really been in the trenches together.”

39:50: “We have to change, who gets to tell the stories, how they are told. We need a mechanism in place to counterbalance the lack of privilege, we need to counterbalance that with training programmes, with writer experiences, all sorts of things to get them into the building, get the skills going, get them up on stage and working.”

The full 43 minutes should be heard.

https://www.walesartsreview.org/podcast-special-joe-murphy/

https://soundcloud.com/war-audio/war-podcast-joe-murphy-and-the-sherman-theatre#t=0:00

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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