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Why we need govt action to save the theatre industry (an impassioned list)

Updated: Jul 2, 2020

Theatre is a where children play

Theatre is where adults play

Theatre holds the mirror up to nature and if we don’t examine who we are we can’t create space for new versions of ourselves, kinder versions

Theatre is gathering with strangers and sharing in the same experience with those strangers and in doing so feeling connected and not alone

Theatre is escape and if we can’t escape we can’t dream and if we can’t dream we can’t have hope and if we can’t have hope we can’t change anything

Theatre is a community of people who have time and time again supported their communities of people often well beyond their remit and funding obligations because our government has time and time again cut vital services and access provision to those who need it most

Theatre is a home (for many people, it's their only home)

Theatre is hundreds of thousands of workers many at risk of losing their job. When you think about the overlap with other creative industries, which is very common, it is possibly even more (1.9 million people work across the creative industries according to SOLT and UK Theatre)

Theatre is 70% of freelancers. A third of those have fallen through the cracks of government support.

Theatre is lighting designers and sound designers and technicians and SMs and ASMs and DSMs and costume designers and set designers, set builders, access support workers, costume makers, production managers, admin teams, janitors, sign language interpreters, educators, security staff, marketeers, producers, writers, directors, actors, box office and front of house staff… audience… the list goes on

Theatre is the industry that closed its doors WEEKS before the government dithered on whether or not it should lockdown because theatre cares about people

Theatre is a special occasion in the calendar (and this is not an argument against its vitalness)

Theatre is one of the most immediate art forms there is which means it can speak to the times we live in. It’s also one of the most ancient, which means it can connect us with our past.

Theatre is anticipation

A place to laugh

A place to cry

A place to release

A place to feel wonder and awe

It’s coming out of a West End show feeling elation and singing and dancing all the way home

It’s being moved to take to your feet in a fringe audience of 4 and whooping until you run out of breath because something inside of you has chemically changed

It’s holding that feeling with you for days, weeks, months, years afterwards

It’s acting because of that feeling

Calling that person you’ve been avoiding talking to

Tying yourself to railings

Going easier on yourself

It’s everyone gasping at the same time

It’s everyone leaning in

It’s seeing yourself and your story on stage for the very first time and feeling seen

It’s engaged school groups

It’s an eruption of clapping and deaf waves

It’s where friendships are formed

And family

It’s temporary

It’s possibility

It’s different every night

It's creative access

It's the nativity play

It’s real people pretending to be other people in front of other real people pretending those people are real which is a very strange thing when you think about it but what that does is allows us to be open to magic

To forget who we are just for a minute

To be free

And sometimes it doesn’t work

Sometimes it’s shit


Over priced

Reaching the same white male straight cis non-disabled privilege with the same white male straight cis non-disabled stories

Hierarchical Racist Ableist Sexist Classist Homophobic Nepotistic

There’s a lot of work to be done

How can we do that work if there are no artists and creatives to lead that work?

If only part of the industry exists?

If that depleted industry isn't representative of all of us?

If that depleted industry can’t or won't take risks?

Theatre reveals who we are

Makes hearts beat faster

Makes minds sharper

Has helped people off the streets

Reduced isolation

Advocated for misrepresented groups

Given people voice

Nurtured young people

Helped us to better understand the viewpoints of those we don’t understand by stepping into their shoes

Theatre teaches empathy


And for that we STILL only have a 17-word “road map” from the Culture Secretary?

If you haven’t already, please write to your MP and join one of the brilliant campaigns like #freelancersmaketheatrework and #WeShallNotBeRemoved to help amplify the message that we need urgent help to save this vital industry.

This isn’t just about saving “theatre people”

This is about all of us

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