Theatre Uncut poses political questions

THEATRE Uncut was established in 2010 as a response to UK Government austerity policies which continue to this day.
Playwright Tim Price. Picture: Warren OrchardPlaywright Tim Price. Picture: Warren Orchard
Playwright Tim Price. Picture: Warren Orchard

It returns this month with a new selection of plays by some of Scotland and the UK’s most successful playwrights, which question in either intimate or explicit detail the structures that run our society. To spread the message far and wide, these works by the likes of Neil LaBute, Tim Price, Kieran Hurley and Mark Thomas are being made available throughout November for free public staging by anyone who wants to put them on.

“The arts tend to flourish under threat,” says TU’s co-artistic director Emma Callander, who runs the event alongside founder Hannah Price. “There’s no coincidence that political theatre has become ‘cool’ again after years of being a dirty word. Theatre Uncut has no drum to bang; we encourage people to discover their own opinion, rather than to share ours. Our rehearsal rooms are full of questions and arguments, of research and learning. We may not agree, that’s the joy, but we always return to the core necessity to create a piece of theatre: empathy. We’re here to ask questions. That’s our job.”

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The broad theme of this year’s selection is “Do we all get more right-wing in hard times?”, brought on, says Callander, by the lesser degree of visible public protest this year. “Maybe people are tired, or scared,” she says, “or maybe they agree with the welfare reforms that target the weakest in society, the ‘Go Home’ vans, the privatising of public services for personal profit and the threat to free healthcare for all in this country.”

Alongside works including Thomas’ provocatively titled Church Forced To Put Up Gates After Font Is Used As Wash Basin By Migrants, there will also be an accompanying selection of plays by Davey Anderson, Rob Drummond, Lewis Hetherington and AJ Taudevin examining issues around the Scottish independence debate.

“The beauty of theatre is that its effect is unquantifiable,” says Callander of what she imagines Theatre Uncut’s ultimate influence might be. “You can’t commission a government survey to reduce its influence into statistics. The person whose life is changed after one line in a play reaches straight to their heart and shifts the way they see the world will walk away into the night, anonymous. Theatre is built on trust, and it’s a trust that’s sadly lacking in the government’s current approach to the arts.”

• Theatre Uncut is at Summerhall, Edinburgh, tomorrow, and the Tron Theatre, Glasgow, 22 November,