17 November 2005

The 'monsterists' are fighting to stage big plays with big casts. Is this really the way forward for theatre, or are these playwrights stuck in the past?

So begins today's thinkpiece by David Farr in The Guardian. My insto-response, is no - the problem is that the Monsterists are stuck in the present, where directors, artistic and otherwise, are in the position of shaping theatrical taste. They commission stuff they like. So the plays that get done are of a certain stamp, and size.

DF's programme for the Lyric, as he advertises it, is an admirable plethora. But not all ADs have his robust, inclusive approach. They're not all of them so brave. So it's okay for him to generalise - but only about the Lyric. He's doing a show with Kneehigh - that's fantastic news. But one Emma Rice does not a summer make.

Odd for me to see DF oppose 'monster' with 'miniature', in for instance, 'It can be argued that the solo-written play is at its best when it is miniaturist'. I know he doesn't have my little rejection of writers in mind, but for the record, as I've said elsewhere, there's no opposition, to my mind, between Monsterists and us Miniaturists. They're in the vanguard, we're in the rear, but we're fighting for the same thing - the creative playwright's right to be heard and seen.


Anonymous said...

It's all marketimg, it's all spin. The Monsters derive their name from the Da-Da'ists, modelling themselves on the explosion of hype that surrounded BritArt in an attempt to shake up the theatre. No bad thing - but their inspiration comes from a response to what the bigger theatres say they want, rather than what the writers themselves want. In other words they only want what they want because it's what they've been told to want. Again nothing wrong in this, except the pretension of opposition and that the Monsters Manifesto is insubstantial, ill considered, and says nothing that's provocotive or useful. In fact quite the opposite; dull and harmful. They put the cart before the horse, "I'm going to write a big play. Er - what about?". Movements happen and are usually identified from outside, they are not self-conscious creations funded by the Arts Council. It would all be so laughable but the world is so barmey that this bunch of jokers are taken seriousley. To paraphrase the bard "Full of sound and little fury, signifying nothing". Enough. Happy minaturism.

sbs said...

Must respectfully disagree, my view is that these are interesting writers trying to get their bigger ideas on stage. It really isn't easy, and they've 'unionised' to give each other a better chance of being heard. In so doing, they cut a swathe for the rest of us, who were grudgingly getting used to thinking small. 'Miniaturism' is about making a virtue of the necessities we've been working with. It's also a good way to work with other writers. Talking to the ones I know, we're all Monsterists at heart. It's not about making everything big, epic, Cecil B DeMille - it's about having the option to go that way if the story needs it.

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.