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The state of British theatre

home  >  nieuws  >  The state of British theatre (01 feb 2017)

Naar aanleiding van het te verschijnen boek What Playwrights Talk About… barstte dit weekend in The Guardian de discussie los over de verderfelijke invloed van Europese regisseurs - jawel, Ivo van Hove - op de nieuwe Britse generatie 

David Hare, één van de beroemdste Britse toneelschrijvers, opent de frontale aanval op 'European concept directors who camp up and distort classic plays in a way that is beginning to infect British theatre'. Volgens Hare: 'Now we’re heading in Britain towards an over-aestheticised European theatre. We’ve got all those people called ‘theatre makers’ – God help us, what a word! – coming in and doing director’s theatre where you camp up classic plays and you cut them and you prune them around. And all that directorial stuff that we’ve managed to keep over on the continent is now coming over and beginning to infect our theatre. And of course if that’s what people want, fine. But I’ll feel less warmth towards the British theatre if that ‘state-of-the-nation’ tradition goes.' 

Ook toneelschrijver en theaterhistoricus Jeffrey Sweet deelt Hare's mening. 'David is right in the sense that there’s more disrespect for text among European directors. They think that their job is not just to interpret a sense of what’s on the page but to also comment on and reform.' Hiermee refereert hij aan Ivo van Hove's regies. Sweet voorspelt dat meerdere regisseurs, zowel in Groot-Brittannië, Van Hove's aanpak zullen volgen 'because of his prize-winning success they think, this is what I have to do to be taken seriously as a director.

Twee dagen later volgde de reactie van theatercritica Lyn Gardner: 'With a hard Brexit on the horizon, the arts world is working hard to strengthen its ties with Europe. Over recent years the two-way traffic between the UK and Europe has benefited all involved, not just through the sharing of different aesthetics and ways of working but through the joint exploration of questions about what theatre can be. The results have been invigorating. But at a time when we need to look outwards not inwards, David Hare apparently thinks we need to keep those pesky European directors out and stop them from influencing British theatre culture.

There is absolutely no sign that the state of the nation play is in peril. One of the brilliant things about British theatre at the moment is its plurality. There is room for all-comers in terms of form and content. If you want to write plays alone in your garret you can; if you feel happier devising in a room together, that’s possible; if you are looking to see what contemporary theatre can bring to circus and vice versa, nobody is going to say that you can’t; if you want to combine text and dance you can. If state of the nation musicals are your thing, well have a go. The boundaries and boxes have given way to a significantly more fluid and creative theatre culture where the play and the playwright are still highly valued (although seldom highly paid) but it is acknowledged that there are many valid ways to make theatre and deliver classic texts.

Of course, any director, of any nationality, can overlay their concept on to a classic text and twist it to their own purpose, and we’ve all sat through these productions. Or those unconvincing revivals designed with an inch of their life, that are all surface glitter and no content. But there is a vast difference between that kind of self-serving production and the work of directors such as Ivo van Hove, Thomas Ostermeier, Benedict Andrews, Simon Stone, Robert Icke, Ellen McDougall, Katie Mitchell, Rupert Goold and more. They will all produce duds from time to time, but such directors liberate classic plays from their original cultural context and make us see them afresh. This doesn’t diminish the plays; it keeps them alive. Anyone who doubts this should immediately get tickets to see Ostermeier’s Richard III at the Barbican in London next month, Van Hove’s utterly astonishing The Roman Tragedies in March (one of the best Shakespeare productions I’ve ever seen), and the return of Simon Stone’s Yerma at the Young Vic in July.'

En nog twee dagen later reageerde ook David Lan: 'European productions aren't 'infecting' our theatre – they're telling hard truths. The National’s Hedda Gabler, directed by Ivo van Hove, captures all the contradictions in Ibsen’s play. It’s these shows that help us through dark times.'  

Lees hier de volledige artikelen:   

The Guardian - David Hare: classic British drama is ‘being infected’ by radical European staging - 28 jan 17
> naar de website

The Guardian - Why David Hare is wrong about the state of British theatre - 30 jan 17
> naar de website

The Guardian - The National Theatre's new season is a staggering dereliction of duty - 30 jan 17
> naar de website

The Guardian - European productions aren't 'infecting' our theatre – they're telling hard truths - 2 feb 17
> naar de website

The Times - Theatre radicals hit back at David Hare’s ‘clichés’ - 4 feb 17
> [download] als .pdf

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