Monday, January 15, 2007

The Royal Court

In the wake of the recent debate about the failure of British theatres to value and nurture the individual visions of playwrights (in a culture of non-text-based theatre and the 'development' of writers by other theatre professionals), Michael Billington writes in today's Guardian supporting the argument - generally considered, he says, 'faintly derriere garde' - that 'while collaboration is a vital rehearsal tool, it rarely produces dynamic words on the page' and 'theatre achieves its greatest resonance when it expresses a solo writer's vision.'

As the directorship of the Royal Court passes from Ian Rickson to Dominic Cooke, Billington muses that Rickson's tenure has been characterised by a rare and 'obstinate belief in the solo writer'. Rickson nurtured writers in another way too, he says: encouraging their second and third plays in a 'culture where people are always frantically seeking the next new thing rather than admiring maturing talent.' He hopes that Cooke will continue in the same vein.

He hopes too that Cooke will fulfil his promise to restore the RC's reputation for experiment and move away from social realism - as indeed do I, a lover (and also writer) of theatre which offers different realities from those which to we are accustomed through television and film. And as we might expect from Billington, his final and biggest hope is that Cooke will produce a more socially-political theatre than did Rickson.

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