Archive for January 25th, 2010

Irish theatre in 2010

25th January 2010 by Maura McHugh

The Irish Times reported last week that despite a dispute over costs the new 2,000-seat Grand Canal Theatre will have its gala opening in March.

The paper also had a feature article entitled “Curtain up on a new theatrical era?”, which discussed the state of the Irish theatre industry in the face of funding cuts and the economic downturn. Here’s a snippet:

Another way of attracting larger audiences is to cast a top star in a lead role. “For instance,” explains Hynes, “this season on Broadway, a play called A Steady Rain, which stars Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig, and which is in fact directed by our own John Crowley, more or less sold out almost before it opened and has completely made back its original investment and will return profits to its investors.”

Hynes cautions, however, that casting a star should “be within the context of the remit as subsidised theatres funded by the Irish taxpayer. You can’t suddenly turn around and start operating with commercial antennae. Because why are you being subsidised in the first place?”

Producer Anne Clarke, who works in both commercial and subsidised theatre, doesn’t see the necessity for a difference in approach or outlook when considering either. “Some people talk about commercial theatre as being cynical, cheap, only there to make money,” she says. “In my experience, that’s not the case. I took the same care and attention in casting and producing The Last Days of the Celtic Tiger and The Goat.”

For the sector to survive in the coming year, which Clarke concedes will be “bumpy”, she believes it “needs to do two things: one, continue to find ways of making work; two, not to lose courage while focusing more on the audience. It would be easy for people to keep their heads down, make work they think people want to see – that’s not the way out of this.”