Friday, 4 February 2011


Issue: We really are all fucked or the death of thinking


Participants: Alan Cox, Erica Whyman, Zoe Svendsen, Kate McGrath, Rebecca Manson Jones, Rupert Jones, Jonathan Holmes and others

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

The problem for us in the arts is not cuts to arts funding – as theatre is going to survive – the problem is the death of thinking.

The situation is: the universities will no longer be funded to provide teaching in the following subjects:

History, politics, foreign languages, economics, ECONOMICS!, policy studies, classical cultures and languages, international relations, art, English literature, music, anthropology, sociology, sport, geography, film, post-colonial studies, theatre, Latin American studies, African Studies, Chinese, ethnography, archeology, Arabic studies, architecture…

There will be no more funding for economics!

No more critical thinking?

We really are all fucked…
Feeling that the theatre/ the arts is an inadequate platform from which to make change, because it isn’t urgent enough.. Should we ditch our day-jobs to do something more politically effective, immediate, arts feels somehow too indirect?

We’ve rejected political theatre over the past twenty years – rejected the Shavian model for discussion-based theatre
Howard Barker not party political or Guardian-reader political – but presents thoughts bomb?

Where is our society headed?
Alternative income streams: Japanese practice: to hire actors to play relatives at their wedding (if you don’t have the right relatives)

The people who study these subjects go on to make up society

If the theatre has been influential in the next five years (ie the situation is better than we believe it will be) what will that have meant for what we’ve done in theatre?
How do we behave like the state is ours, not theres?

Gap between the desire for a political conversation (manifested on blogs and in comments pages on media sites) but people don’t relate this to the arts – and don’t come to arts events to join in with thinking.

How can we change this? How can the arts participate in a social and national dialogue?

Start a facebook café (relation between the online and the offline)

What is our national identity? What constitutes it?

Paradox: Tories not anti-art per se, pro heritage (free museums). Tories want economic success. But they don’t recognize that art cannot be produced instrumentally, because it is part of a much more complex economy than the relationship between buying a ticket to something, and receiving an experience in return.

What we want to achieve is for audiences to desire to buy a ticket to cross a threshold – to experience or be at something they are curious about, a desire to experience the as-yet unknown, rather than to buy a product

Even if you didn’t go to university yourself, many of the people you interact with did?

What does the university offer? A space for non-instrumental thinking – a place to test and articulate what is happening in the world and understand how we got here

Also university has come to substitute for the dole or other forms of subsidy as a place where people who want to make theatre can discover, make mistakes, try things out without external scrutiny


Socialism is something like camping in the distribution of labour and leisure.

Our current (capitalist) situation is something like – if you were on a camping trip and wandered off into the woods and found an apple tree with wonderful edible apples on it, the reasonable thing to do would be to go back to the group and sell the others apples at a price you would set according to what they might pay. Giving them away would be seen as ridiculous and foolish. This is our situation.
Gerry Cohen - ~Why Not Socialism?

Stewart Lee satirizing Thatcher’s comment to a student studying ancient norse mythology that it is a privilege on Youtube

What do we want?

To think harder
To challenge ourselves to be smarter, funnier and more meaningful
To take our audiences more seriously
To talk to one another more – artists and producers – about the content of the work/what works/what doesn’t – as a constructive process

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