National Student Drama Feast

Thank you to NSDF for existing. A wonderful coming together of young passion for the arts; alongside wise saws and slippered pantaloons offering their support, encouragement, cheers, and critiques to the next generation of theatremakers.

I started my day sharing an exploration of Lemons with the whole cast and creative team of Walrus Theatre Company from Warwick in conversation with the inspiring director Tamara Harvey. From there I moved to a packed lounge with what must have been 150 actors and creative exploring with an expert panel the challenges of integrated casting. Many different young companies and representatives of drama societies across the country explored considerations of gender quotas, attracting the widest cross section of racial heritage into the audition room and membership of societies, and from there beginning to create a leveler playing field where it is possible for every actor, and every technician, irrespective of race, gender, and sexual orientation to make theatre.   “It is a dangerous idea that whiteness is a default setting” . “The industry likes to know what to do with people they see as other…” and the challenge to all…”unless we are changing it here in this room…no-one is going to do it for us.”

“Be proactive – reflect the society you live in” came the appeal from a wise guest. The session offered many practical ideas – encouraging awareness of integrated casting, and casting in such a way whereby a character is never presumed white unless the piece is exploring the nature of racial conflict or specificity. [And even then I am reminded of the amazing piece of writing about Asylum detention centres by Tim Luscombe – Kimalia – which was first presented by Mountview with integrated casting by race and gender. It makes powerful theatre.

And talking of powerful theatre I have to single out one extraordinary piece of verbatim theatre I witnessed this evening – and sense that I and the rest of the audience effectively held our breathes through. The 56 by FYSA Theatre in Sheffield brings to emotional and present life the tragedy of Bradford City stadium fire through the stories of those who were there and survived. This company of three actors and 9 other creative devisors and production staff offered us a reason to be in Scarborough, and a reason to always hope to be surprised.   This was Necessary Theatre at its best. Check the tour dates.

I hope, tomorrow, at my Mountview sponsored workshop for Creative Producers that we can explore “what makes a hit” and the importance for me of Necessary Theatre. I hope we can explore the excitement of being a producer, and the phenomenal enabling role which good creative producer can play in the creative mix.   I am excite to have met some amazing people this weekend who want to come and speak with our Mountview MA Creative Producers when they begin their course in September. I look forward to sharing some of the ideas and opportunities tomorrow.

Thank you NSDF and all the staff and volunteers who welcome us.

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