Thursday, June 08, 2006

Look Out There's A Monster Coming!

If big is beautiful, reckon one group of British-based playwrights, then monstrous is even more magnificent. So members of the group decided to call themselves (this is almost not a joke) The Monsterists. The Monsterists (who include among their number Dublin-born Colin Teevan, who moved to London some time ago in search of big-osity) believe that everything wrong with the theatre might be cured by allowing younger writers to have access to lots of cash to make huge, nay “monster,” shows with massive casts. You can see why they might think that.

The problem, it seems, is that lots of money, big sets and dozens of extras are only ever used when creating bad theatre, which the Monsterists describe as “heritage theatre, the monologue, and anything by David Hare” (for which, I presume, Irish writers might substitute “anything by Brian Friel.”) This means that new writers most often find themselves working on “no budget” productions in “black box” spaces. And this particular group of writers wants to work big.

As the Monsterists see it, new writing for the theatre needs to be elevated “from the ghetto of the studio 'black box' to the main stage.” Playwright, Alan Ayckbourn is a supporter of the movement, offering it the slogan “Think big - write bigger!”

Visitors to the Theatre Forum’s AGM/Annual Conference, which is being held in Limerick later next week, will get to hear much more about the Monsterists in a session called A New Direction for New Writing. This will be run by Richard Bean, a British playwright and founder member of the group.

The Theatre Forum will also feature a plenty of sessions about other, smaller but perfectly formed issues. The writer behind Jerry Springer – The Opera (and one half of prehistoric comedy duo, Lee and Herring) will speak at a session called “Asking for Trouble? Censorship & Artistic Freedom” which will be chaired by director, Conall Morrison. Lee, who is very funny, has in recent times being travelling Britain explaining why exactly he should be allowed to stage his supposedly blasphemous (but not very funny) satirical opera about the life of Jesus Christ.

Another interesting time should be had when Irish playwright, Tom Murphy, pops in for a chat with Artistic Director of the National Theatre, Fiach MacConghail. Although anyone who attends that will miss “parallel session” with contemporary dance bigwig, Lloyd Newson, Artistic Director of DV8.



Anonymous Komedy Kollective Theatre said...

We fully agree with their monitorium on Shakespeare. The new work needs to be given a bit of a chance in the large theatres, without being told there must be only five actors per performance. The North of England's Komedy Kollective, check out our website at, as a crowd-pleasing yet challenging political satire show, need at least seventeen actors per show, to save the needless doubling-up of characters.

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