Friday, 4 February 2011


Issue: theatre and fashion : what can we learn from each other?

Convener(s): Valentina Ceschi a Santa Croce

Participants: Kane Lane, AlanHescott, James Bush, Jennifer Lee, Thomas Eccleshare, Sasha Milavic Davies and many more joined as it went along

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

The discussion raised a lot of questions such as:
Can theatre be couture? / if so, how?
The role of the designer. What if the designer took the lead and, writers, directors and performers followed (not necessarily in that order), but a theatre production company became more like a fashion house. (the Convener aspires to this)
Other things that were mentioned were ‘branding’, why is fashion so aspirational and why is theatre not?
Punchdrunk was the only theatre company people could name that does work which is ‘cool’, exclusive (often because of the secrecy and the general innovation). It is theatre which is more like a game, a party, a gig, an experience.
It makes other work look safe, pathetic, moral.

The ‘golden key’ is key – which very few privileged people possess. Secrecy also plays a big part.

However, the masses need to be told that there is a ‘secret’ going on, to spread the brand’s exclusivety. Glossy magazines don’t feature performance. It’s not cool.

Branding is a big topic. Theatre could brand itself more like fashion.

Why do European countries value the performing arts differently and on a same level as fashion?> Example: in French Vogue there is a whole section on theatre, dance and performance, which is missing in British Vogue.

Does theatre really have to have a moral obligation not to be decadent, superficial or purely aesthetic??
An analogy to describe theatre and fashion’s relations to their audiences was:

Theatre= desperate and needy boyfriend (which you’re not attracted to)
Fashion and couture= the elusive beautiful girl everyone wants to date, but no one can get to

Theatre needs to be less ‘invisible’ and yet more ‘elusive’ (exclusive) and marketed better. It is too accessible so nobody wants it/
Why does some British theatre feel almost like it is ‘rejecting fashion’, and therefore embracing dowdy, unglamorous aesthetic. Sounds like the bitter desperate boyfriend, not getting the girl.

In conclusion British theatre is dowdy and European theatre is more aspirational, with more emphasis on aesthetic.

I want to make theatre which is glamorous, aesthetically driven, dynamic and eye-popping, exclusive and fun – at the risk of it being decadent, costly and superficial.

Thank you for a great discussion!

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