Perhaps? Let’s see.
Most heavy weight or complicated subjects cannot be discussed on air live in a radio studio, much less on television. And often, right now, is just too early to dissect an issue. It hasn’t even been digested. It’s too raw. It’s too cooked. Too silent. Too loud. Too in your face. On air, the segment, the sound bite, the phone in, all of it is not working. Things are begin left out. We are not getting the full story. The time does not permit it. There is no conclusive argument – “that’s all we have time for folks, I’m going to have to cut you short there”, how many times have you heard that? Or how frustrating is it when all you hear are lots of white men talking over one another in a studio and nothing is really said or heard. And, although social media is definitely more inclusive and it is good for picking up on stuff or catching the gist of a news story…..you can just forget about Facebook and Twitter for informed debate unless you have hours upon hours at your disposal for wading through the miles of rants, inaccuracies and the repetition! How about theatre then? Can it be a place of relevance? As opposed to this high brow, obtuse, irrelevant place where middle-aged people go to fall asleep before their steak dinners. Is a play the result of one writer tap tap tapping away beside a burning flame in a dusty garret? Yes and No. But mainly, No. The playwright is a very specific kind of writer. Albeit still poor. And when paid, still underpaid but that is food for another day. The playwright writes for the stage. Is thinking orally all the time. Thinking how people think and talk. The playwright covers many angles. Looks at a story, event, issue from the point of view of different characters and that is key. We are in a very exciting period for theatre. Now more than ever, we need discourse, debate, analysis and I’m sorry but the media machine is not doing its job of facilitating this. In real time, current issues are lost to the next, hottest story in the blink of an eye. And what was of vital significance yesterday is all but forgotten by today. There is also very real menacing legal fears. Can we print this? Can you say that? Ah the beauty of fiction. Theatre can revisit these real time issues and light them up again. Put them under the microscope. There is something about it being “up there” on the stage, the rational and the emotional fused. Stories made flesh. Maybe we can see things more clearly. Tf successful, a good play can truly cast some new light on a subject. And then, maybe then, we can have a proper, satisfying, conclusive argument afterwards in the pub. Imagine that?! Now that kind of theatre might even lead to change or God forbid, action. It might lead to better journalism and better theatre again. Osmosis. Dare I say it? A better world. The Abbey theatre is now being run by two new directors from Scotland and things are hotting up there. Neil Murray and Graham McLaren have just announced three brand new short plays as three urgent responses to issues that are happening right now. Take a look at their most recently announced short play line-up for May and treat yourself to a ticket. I for one am definitely going to check out A Whisper Anywhere Else today!