Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

“I Am the Vehicle for Story”: Two Decades Remembered

Tim Price

Tim Price Dramatist & Advocate , Stage, Print, Television & Interview , July 4, 2024
Tim Price by Tim Price Dramatist & Advocate To have a play on the big stages of the Donald Gordon Theatre and the Olivier Theatre for three months; to be directed by Rufus Norris; to have a filmed version that is shown repeatedly in cinemas; to be the attention of every critic who matters; to rouse in audiences something that, more often than not, brings them to their feet.

That is about as good as it gets for a dramatist.

That is how the first half of 2024 was for Tim Price.

* * * *

Tim Price has also been a leading advocate for theatre and theatre-writing.

In 2015 he was co-editor with Kate Wasserberg of a collection “Contemporary Welsh Plays” for Bloomsbury Publishing.

He has been one of the forces behind the company Dirty Protest. Dirty Protest has a long record of production and presentation of Wales at the Edinburgh Fringe. Its track record and accomplishments in drama were not sufficient to persuade the Arts Council of Wales to accord it revenue funding status in 2023.

He was a regular and a lead participant in the Writers Group on the community site that the National Theatre of Wales inaugurated in 2010. His writings there, as with all the others, were removed from public view with a new management of a different mien.

A characteristically punchy contribution, now taken out of the public domain, read:

“There is too little strategic oversight of new writing in Wales. And a body dedicated to new writing, just as the poets and novelists have Literature Wales, could defend playwrights rights, advocate for new Welsh work at home and abroad, and provide the pastoral care that playwrights need to flourish.”

In 2011 Tim Price wrote seven sentences, one hundred and fifty-four words, for the community forum. Two weeks later his question had provoked responses that ran to tens of thousands of words.

In 2014 he was co-author of a 35-page proposal for a Playwrights’ Studio Wales. That too may not be read online

In 2018 he was in conversation with Katie Elin-Salt & Jordan Bernarde for 50 minutes for a podcast by Chippy Lane Productions. The same advocacy and pungency were present.

“I wanted an apex of culture. To be a national theatre you have to be an international theatre.”

“What we lack is a critical community.”

The podcast is covered in the link below 2 October 2018.

The collection "PLAYS 1" published by Bloomsbury is discussed below 17 November 2014.

"He has learned to beware “the over-articulated emotion.”...Price asserts the distance that is necessary between subject and object. “I am the vehicle for story, not the other way round. I take pride in my discipline and little else.”

* * * *

In "Isla" he returned again to the modernity of robotics and the social media mob. The television adaptation is reviewed 30 June 2022

“Roger asserts a truth that there must be redundancy in language. The vast bulk of utterance not only deserves to be forgotten but needs to be forgotten. "Sometimes people say things without any meaning at all", he says, "They're just words. To attach any other meanings or intentions is just wrong."

That is the crux. "If I said it's meaningless, it's meaningless because I said it." But our words are not wholly of our dominion. Language, like art, is socially constructed.”

* * * *

A part-chronology of the theatre, ten productions, as follows:

01 September 2007: Greg Cullen ended his tenure as Artistic Director of National Youth Theatre Wales with Tim Price as co-writer for "CAFE CARIAD"

27 February 2012: "FOR ONCE" produced by Pentabus.

"Tim Price has proved himself to be a master...a clear vision and a deep understanding of the human heart beat."

April and May 2012: Four reviewers at schools in Haverfordwest, Cardiff and Connah's Quay for "THE RADICALISATION OF BRADLEY MANNING", produced by National Theatre Wales.

Subsequently at the Edinburgh Fringe Tim Price's play, in competition with 180 others plays, became the first winner of the 10,000-pound James Tait Black Prize for Drama.

"One strand in theatre’s legitimation is its engagement with modernity. It is not the only strand, it is not the most important one, but a theatre that lacks it is a feeble thing with half a heart."

01 May 2013: "PRAXIS MAKES PERFECT" produced by National Theatre Wales & Neon Neon.

"Writer Tim Price has done a marvellous job with a script that had little room for manoeuvre when it came to content. A lesser writer would surely have buckled under the weight of the biographical information that needed to be let out in order for the story to mean anything to those who knew nothing about Feltrinelli."

13 May 2013: "SALT, ROOT AND ROE" was performed at Theatr Clwyd, the Sherman and the Trafalgar Studios in London.

"It's a moving, often funny, quietly powerful play that gets a magical production."

21 October 2013: "I'M WITH THE BAND" produced by Wales Millennium Centre & Traverse Theatre in the year before the Scottish referendum.

14 January 2014: "PROTEST SONG" was performed by Rhys Ifans at the National Theatre Shed.

"Rarely has a play made the personal and political seem so interconnected with such emotional force."

24 September 2014: Six Critics at "TEH INTERNET IS SERIOUS BUSINESS" at the Royal Court.

The play had a distinguishing note. The printed version had to be pulped as precaution against legal action. Art should ruffle the powerful now and again; it is a sign of good health.

The regular critics were somewhat fazed. The Daily Mail: "Precocious, puerile, thought-provoking and disreputable, Price's play has everything it needs to go viral."

30 September 2014: "TEH INTERNET IS SERIOUS BUSINESS" at the Royal Court.

"This is an exhilarating production that earns an ecstatic response from its mainly young audience. It exhilarates because it is theatre, a large company in action, an action that blends movement, word and music into something that is new with the tang of today."

9th January 2022: “FORCE MAJEURE” at the Donmar Theatre

10th March 2024: “NYE” at Olivier Theatre, London

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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