Monday, September 27, 2010


“Theatre can’t change the world,” wrote Michael Billington, approvingly, about My Name is Rachel Corrie, and when it went to the West End, the producers stuck that review up outside the theatre. My habitual answer to this question still feels reliable. Can theatre change the world? We don’t know. Not all the results are in yet. We haven’t made all the theatre. We’ve barely begun to make the theatre that dares to believe that change is possible. Meanwhile the evidence coming the other way is that within two generations, within the scope of current living memory, the world will change again both in and out of relation to our imaginative projections of that change. To have any role to play, theatre must at least respond to and help us live that change. What that means in practice will also change, though it will only arise from a constant dedication to theatre as a distinctive practice, an analogue practice in a culture with an increasingly fragile dependence on the digital. But for theatre not merely to respond to change but to lead and shape it, as well it might, is a challenge to our capacity to want that change, and to testify to that desire.

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