Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Looking at the Words

National Theatre: Comment

Factors That Caused Instability , Theatre of Wales , October 26, 2020
National Theatre: Comment by Factors That Caused Instability The article of 20th October started from an analogy with the natural world. Companies are complex adaptive entities that occupy an environmental niche. Their flourishing, survival even, relies on a homeostatic relationship with its environment. Homeostatic balance is maintained cybernetically, information flows from without feeding back into internal processes,

In the autumn of 2018 that homeostatic relationship failed and tipped the organisation into disorder.

The first article cited examples of language that put self-generated assertion before the rich data to be garnered from the environment.

The language emitted by the company reveals other areas where homeostatic attention went unheeded.

There was the diversion from the environmental niche. Here:

“NTW will commission a visual artist to make a brand new work inspired by the volume of data generated by NHS Wales. This work could sit in a museum, online, a found space, a hospital site or somewhere we have yet to imagine.”

National theatre is paid by the state to make theatre. Unsurprisingly, the people of Wales via its dramatists considered that its theatre company should do theatre. It was a consideration rejected by the Board, a group with a lesser connection to the arts and Wales.

The aesthetics were shaky. The raising of abstraction over implementation was regular. The expression was made in language that was heavily hazy.

“The reason for doing things differently and in the face of convention is because we won't find the answers to our problems in the past they will be within new structures, new ideas and new narratives.

“There is a fundamental structural understanding that theatre has to be in dialogue with its community and its audiences and in deep conversation with those who are not traditional theatre audiences, if we’re to have a theatre sector that thrives on the other side of this.

“...big ideas reflecting the world and reflecting the global world, asking big questions and provoking thought.”

“...These productions will be experimental, political, diverse and provocative. All of them will explore the human condition, what effect places have on our identities, and our impressions of others’ identities.”

But art follows the reverse course. Idea ensues from realisation. Meaning is a consequence of actiualisation-within-form.

Sometimes the language was florid in its emptiness. In the form that it was presented:

“NATIONAL THEATRE WALES HAS THE NOTIONS OF PLACE AND PEOPLE AT THE CORE OF ALL IT DOES – INVESTIGATING CONNECTIONS AND DISCONNECTIONS, EXPLORING THE PHYSICAL AND VIRTUAL WORLD, UNLIKELY RESONANCES AND UNPREDICTABLE DISSONANCES, PROCESSIONS AND GATHERINGS, THE INDIVIDUAL AND THE COLLECTIVE, EMBRACING THE POLITICAL EDGE, OFFERING PEOPLE NEW WAYS TO THINK ABOUT THEMSELVES, HELPING PEOPLE TO CONNECT WITH EACH OTHER DIFFERENTLY – THESE ARE OUR STARTING-POINTS FOR NEW THEATRICAL EXPLORATIONS.”

Inattention to the primary goal was constant. The beneficiary doctrine was ignored.

“We will continue to support the creative impulse of artists to make their best work, engaging the public in a dynamic conversation, and also extend our reach and impact at home and abroad.”

“National Theatre Wales considers the nurturing and development of theatre artists in Wales to be one of its core goals, both as a means to achieve extraordinary new theatre productions, and for the sake of the wider development of Welsh theatre. “

“We believe we have a dual responsibility; to nurture the next generation of creative talent, while at the same time working with more established artists to help them expand their practice...”

“We will continue to support the creative impulse of artists to make their best work, engaging the public in a dynamic conversation, and also extend our reach and impact at home and abroad.”

Organisations have primary goals. The audiences of Wales are the primary goal. National theatre is not an Academy. The company's activity abroad is less than many tiny other companies of Wales.

There is language that is not quite consonant with fact.

“NTW was created as a radically communal company.”

Wales has scores of community companies. The company was founded by the Government to be a national theatre.

“Radical”, see below, is code for the exclusion of the majority of Welsh citizens.

“We are a registered charity – meaning we are a not-for-profit organisation and rely on the generosity of individuals, trusts and foundations and statutory funding to be able to create the work we do.”

“As a registered charity, we need to raise the money to create more opportunities for new ideas to flourish and grow.

This gives a misleading impression. The nation pays £4000 a day.

There is language with a touch of fancy to it.

“You’ve laughed with us, played with us, told us what you think, learned with us, changed us and been a big part of our story.

“So far you’ve been game for everything we’ve thrown at you. You’ve followed us across Wales. Up mountains, across beaches; through towns and village and on digital dates for online adventures.

“We would love to still hang out with you and keep you informed about what we are doing, where we will be and share our news with you.”

This is language that is unique. It is addressed to no-one. Young people would deride it. But it is not addressed to anyone in Wales. It is reminiscent of when the BBC had to do the new youth music. The “Six-Five Special” opened with Pete Murray speaking “we've got almost a hundred cool cats jumping here, some real cool characters to give us give us the gas.”

There is the language of political favouritism. 31% of the electorate voted for the governing party in 2016. The company went to an area where the vote was 52% Conservative and UKIP. The purpose of their show was given as:

“Demonstrating how capitalism and globalization creates [ sic] ghost towns with little thought of the people who live and work there. The play speaks to the changing landscape of the UK, the people that get left behind and those that fight...a response to the austerity agenda that has brought us to our knees...this is an odyssey, an antidote to the darkness and the fear. A hymn to the unremarkable, daily acts of heroism made by people, who offer a lifeline to others who may have lost their way.

“Together we consider the fragility of resilience, the generosity of the human spirit and the power of hope and possibility. Join us for an adventure in dreaming.”

The north gets to be preached at by a posh elite who live in CF1. A national company sets itself up as the cultural arm of Momentum and manages to stretch to three performances. The numbers who saw it, or had any knowledge of the show, were miniscule.

There was zero interest from the media of Wales.

Like Momentum CF1 knows little of its people. That distance came out publicly with its observation that “the locals are very friendly”

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

back to the list of reviews

This review has been read 75 times

There are 30 other reviews of productions with this title in our database:

 

Privacy Policy | Contact Us | © keith morris / red snapper web designs / keith@artx.co.uk