Theatre Uncut, by Daniel Bye, November 2012
“In last year’s Theatre Uncut I curated an evening at the Royal and Derngate Theatre in Northampton, and had an absolute blast directing David Greig’s Fragile, which had the entire audience playing one of the parts in a two-hander. In the closing moments, en masse, the audience found themselves chanting “this situation is all fucked up and it has to change”. Tremendous fun, totally outrageous and devastatingly effective. David Greig is one of the foremost playwrights in the world, and for him to contribute a one-off short to something like Theatre Uncut demonstrates how substantial the event was even then, in its first incarnation.
Other playwrights (last year and this) include Dennis Kelly, Mark Ravenhill and Neil LaBute. It’s a hell of a roll-call. And what unifies them is anger: at the Government’s response to the economic crisis, at their punishment of the poor and the vulnerable for the crimes of the super-rich, at their ignoring of a growing environmental catastrophe and the many lessons of history, at their sheer maddening stupid venality. They – we – are bloody furious. Fury makes for phenomenal, galvanising art. Think Guernica. Think Mother Courage and Her Children. Think Cathy Come Home.
The onstage role in Fragile was played in last year’s Edinburgh Theatre Uncut by Kieran Hurley, who wrote the piece I’m directing for this year’s event, London 2012: Glasgow. You may not of heard of Kieran, but he’s a bit of an emerging megastar north of the border. His show Beats was named Best Play at this year’s Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland, and when his Theatre Uncut play was first read at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, Phill Jupitus played one of the parts. His show Hitch is one of the most beautiful, heartfelt and downright enjoyable things I’ve ever seen in a theatre – made all the more meaningful by its subject-matter, Kieran’s own hitch-hike to the G8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy.
His Theatre Uncut play London 2012: Glasgow is a brilliant, scabrous satirical romp through some of the politics of national self-presentation (and self-preservation) that made this year’s Olympics, however thrilling the sporting spectacle, a nauseating exercise in the manufacture of corporatist ideology. It superbly nails the puerile metropolitan pomposity behind that massive branding project. Sure, London had a lot to be proud of (although I don’t know that Kieran necessarily agrees). But it also had loads to be ashamed of. That pomposity, that shame, are balloons delightfully popped by Kieran’s wicked satirical play.
What Fragile, London 2012: Glasgow and many of the other Theatre Uncut plays from both years share is a remarkable ability to distill their justified anger into something that gives tremendous artistic pleasure. And it does so while absolutely communicating that anger. You have to go along to your nearest Theatre Uncut event. You might even want to get involved. This situation is all fucked up, and it has to change. So be part of that change.” – Daniel Bye
Theatre Uncut events are taking place across the world from 12-18 November 2012