Re:Play is a compilation of solo poetry performances by five poets based around the topic of race, identity and life experiences . The compilation hasn’t been defined as a play or as a poetry reading but as a ‘programme’ which leaves it open to definition. Whilst looking at the specifics of which descriptive term is used may seem trivial it actually is quite important. There is more to a play than the classic Aristotelian structure or Freytag’s five act play.
As a poet, writer and aspiring theatre maker I have many interests in the creative arts field. I want to infuse all my interests into the plays I write and therefore feel that the popular view of a play is limiting. I would refer to Re:Play as a play, a poetic one, that allows the actors to tell the story and perform simultaneously as opposed to simply performing the story.
Now is the time for audiences, especially young audiences, to understand that the definition of a play is broad and can involve so many things. Using different mediums in a play doesn’t have to force it into a category or make it seem any less of a play because it defies the norm. Re:Play consists of voice overs, screen projections, advert clips and shadow puppetry. Though these mediums are used on a small scale the play indicates the larger possibilities in theatre.
In addition to structure and use of mediums in a play, content is also an important element. Now as a black person I would question whether it is a requirement for Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic (BAME) people to feel compelled to create plays that deal with the topic of race. I’m convinced there is a demand for race based plays as it appeals to a particular audience. However, in the same way I think the limitations of what a play is should be removed, the same should be done with play content and BAME writers and actors. I specifically mention writers and actors because writers are content creators and actors bring it to life. There tends to be this invisible pressure on BAME writers to write about race issues and BAME actors to have roles which references race in some way. This is not said to discredit the play content but rather it is a question posed to challenge a seemingly common trend.
Re:Play has sought to be a play with a difference in structure but has content that is much more common. The terms good or bad would be too simplistic to describe the structure and content choices made by the producers and poets. In this instance I have decided to focus on theatrical norms and how they have or haven’t been challenged. It is a positive thing to see a play and be inspired or horrified, laugh or cry, ask questions or even be silenced. Hopefully the new developed play will be out soon and will be an even more provocative piece for the audience.
Re:Play is currently a pilot but will be further developed and shown some time in the future. Further information may be posted on the Nimble Fish website or the Southbank Centre website. Photo by Southbank Centre.