On 31st of December 2009 I wrote an article entitled ‘The Theatre of 2010 – My Hopes‘ which was a take on the ‘Best of…’ articles which seem to creep up every year in newspapers, websites and magazines. Instead of writing the best of 2010, I’m going back to this article, to see if any of them have been met, surpassed my hopes or indeed failed. Topics raised included environmentally friendly theatres, young peoples voices, and the use of social media.
#1 Continued West End Ticket Sales
It’s hard to judge the impact of ticket sales as there are currently no reports out to suggest that the West End suffered or gained from 2010. I can only imagine that from the success of 2009, it will be on the up. If the Kids Week statistics are anything to go by, which saw more than 16,000 tickets being sold and an extension of the scheme due to demand, then we’re on track to have another year of growth in the West End. Recession or not, theatre is still being loved by all. The real excitement will come in 2012 with the Olympics.
#2 Lighting in the lime light
Aside from the terrible pun, I wanted to see lighting designers getting more credit for their work. Their craft is a very simple, yet completely mediocre and complicated one to achieve. How to make something on stage look good, or else stopping it all going in the dark. Whilst I’ve not noticed an increase in critical praise of lighting designers’ work, I have on numerous occasions (here for example) highlighted the work of the lighting designers giving them the praise they deserve. So perhaps it’s not the done thing but I’m sure I could get someone interested to give a detailed review of lighting in the shows they see, but is that what people want to read? The quest goes on…
#3 Young people breaking through
Thinking about this previous remark of wanting to see more young people having a voice and discussion on theatre is a bit ironic. I had pointed out the existence of AYT as a place where I was doing this, but little did I think that it would end up being the place where this ‘revolution’ would take place. AYT has been growing, we have 4 journalists, 5 bloggers, 15 reviewers, all young and starting conversations on theatre and the arts. If that isn’t a break through I don’t know what is. Other highlights included If I Ruled The World Festival at the BAC, the Takeover Festival at the York Theatre Royal, Run Rabbit Run at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Are young people starting to have their share on the stage?
#4 Internships On Top
If anything Internships are still running throughout theatres, but have also been under increasing pressure and criticism/criticism for their conduct throughout 2010. Are they exploiting young people, or valuable learning tools for engaging in the arts sector? The Future Jobs scheme opened up brilliant opportunities for apprentices and training programs across theatres – these being paid too. Sadly the Future Jobs scheme has been cut by the Government, at a great loss to young people. So what of the average internship? Well, I still support them, knowing the benefits of them myself, but they need the governments backing to offer paid opportunities to anyone, and not just those who are unemployed. AYT still maintains our list of theatre internships.
I honestly believe that in a world where we are racked with a global warming crisis (despite it dying down in the media), theatres had to pull their weight in becoming more environmentally friendly. I had praised the work of the Arcola Theatre as “one of the leading theatres in tackling the green initiative” with their Arcola Energy project. My hope was to see other theatres and organisations taking an example from the Arcola and adapting it for themselves. 2010 saw the launch of the EcoVenue Scheme by Theatres Trust. A collection of 12 theatres became the first to be accepted onto the scheme with the aim of improving green initiatives and making their venues a more environmentally building. The EcoVenue Scheme has gone from strength to strength and now includes 48 venues. Verdict: A huge success, and whilst it’s still early days, the involvement of The Theatres Trust to begin this process is outstanding.
#6 Social Media For Better
I don’t think anyone could have predicted just how much Social Media would influence the way in which theatres interacted with their audiences in 2010. Whole marketing plans now include social media strategies to work better at the communication between theatres and their audiences. There have of course been some cock-ups along the way (National Theatre Twitter Muck Up) but there have been some effective uses of social media to truly push boundaries. I’m talking about of course Such Tweet Sorrow, the most adventerous thing the RSC has actually done for many years. Yes I hated it, but no one has come close to it since – unless you count Blast Theory’s SMS Drama. If 2010 was a good year for social media then 2011 is looking to be the year that real adventures and excitement is being made, and hopefully AYT will be able to report on each and everyone of them.
#7 The London Festival Fringe
I typed this name out, and failed to suppress my laughter. I had vowed that I wanted to see this London Festival which was attempting to rival the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to either “completely flop or completely blow all our minds”, the reality is neither. I remained in London during August putting on my own show as part of the Camden Fringe, and I have to say that not once did I hear of the London Festival Fringe. It did little to blow away the cob-webs of the London Fringe scene as promised. I had also hoped for a “better website, better organisation, and better ideas”, and this was not received. The website still looks horrendous, I’ve heard nothing but headaches over the way the LFF is managed and there were no ideas to make it any different than a copy-cat version of other cities. Verdict: A disappointing, but predictable outcome. The London Festival Fringe failed to leave it’s mark, or indeed ruffle any theatre loving people into a state of “we love London Theatre”. Back to the drawing board yes?
Did you have a hope for 2010? Was it met or more to the point disappointingly missed altogether? 2011 is going to be an exciting year, where theatres push further in their work with the recent funding cuts, and the need to become more ‘transparent’ in their campaigns and organisations.
Image by Andy Bird.