A series of live, interactive, online debating forums on art and social justice; 2011-13.

Created and presented by Rideout


‘Prison as a Barometer for our Society’: Juliet Lyon interviewed

Keywords; justice, prisoners, PRT, reform, prison, arts

Subject areas: reform of the justice system, Prison Reform Trust, arts in prison, Home Office, prison numbers, mental health, sentencing policy, offending behaviour programmes, creating a market within the field of criminal justice, respect for victims, comparison of British system with others internationally, privatisation of the Prison Service, prisoners’ rights, those who should be in prison and those who shouldn’t, learning disability issues for prisoners, ‘trial by tabloid’, American boot camps, suicide prevention issues, Michael Howard, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, ‘What works’, payment by results, issue of phones in prison, prison architecture.


‘Theatre to Its Audience’ Chris Goode interviewed

Keywords; Constellations, biography, playwrighting, directing, aesthetics, composition, theatre-making, audiences

Subject areas: role of the director, ensemble working, inviting the audience into the rehearsal room, autobiographical v political orientations, theatre as playing with ideas of composition, theatre and ethics, theatre blog as a way of ‘thinking out loud’, show ‘The Constellations’, show ‘Open House’ at West Yorkshire Playhouse, the role of the audience, autobiography in performance, the civic role of theatre, issues of scale, the use of the ironic stance within performance, the fetishisation of failure, the notion of ‘liveness’ and communal experience, ‘Why do people go to the theatre?’, the civic role of theatre, comparisons with church-going, the strategy of direct address to the audience, the importance of story-telling, theatre that is not bound by conventional time frames.


‘Feminism is an Argument’: Bea Campbell interviewed

With Gaby Agis, Sylvan Baker, Susie Miller, Chris Johnston and Lucy Perman. Chaired by Sara Smyth.

Keywords; gender, feminism, childhood, class, sexuality, politics, language, inequality, activism

Subject areas; gender divide, sexual revolution, feminism, sexuality, womens liberation, wage disparities, survivor movements, culture work, literature, New Labour, shrinking of the State and community arts, generational differences around issues of crime and responsibility for community development, the criminal justice system, different generations relationships with feminism, the impact of unemployment on women, community arts, how culture informs growing up as a boy or as a girl, how gender ‘trumps’ power, how gender scripts are delivered by shops and marketplaces, plastic surgery ‘as a sign of crisis’.


Riots and Rumours of Riots – Baroness Lola Young interviewed

With Barby Asante, Topher Campbell, Zoe Ingenhaag and Irfan Patel.

Keywords; riots, Tottenham, Bernie Grant, popular culture, the Red Room, the Tricycle.

Subject areas; Lola Young’s personal biography, limitations of roles available for Black performers, arts in Haringey, racial stereotypes, Black film studies, Tricycle verbatim plays, causes of the riots, riot clean-up, political unrest, artistic responses to the riots, the arts as a means to raise political questions, theories of arts and politics, young people and the arts, the value or not of creating archives of the arts, ‘Does the artist have a responsibility at times of social crisis?’, the Tricycle’s policy of taking on issues that the government is neglecting, those who are ‘not heard’ within our society, those who get airtime and others who get none, when it’s justified to ‘scream loud’, how police use Stop and Search primarily against black people, young people using the opportunity of the riots to take what they couldn’t get through legal means.


‘Broke! The Economics of Necessity – Volunteer Participation in Large-scale Theatre Events offer New Opportunities to Create New, Experimental, Ground-breaking Performance’

With Ed Berman, John Kieffer, Kelda Holmes, Martin Brown (Equity Assistant General Secretary), Frances Rifkin, David Micklem (BAC, Wildworks), Bill Aitcheson.

Keywords; Ethics, volunteering, Inter-action, theatre scale, professional, amateur, entertainment, mass, spectacle, inequality, You Me Bum Bum Train, payment for volunteers

Subject areas: creativity v education, working for free, ethics of participation, professional versus amateur, how much creative influence does a volunteer have?, payment of volunteers, BAC’s volunteer policy and how it can provide an education for these, the training of volunteers, the experience of working as a volunteer for You Me Bum Bum Train, the trend for spectacle in theatre-making, a potential for shallowness in large-scale participatory work, the influence of Ed Berman and the Fun Art Bus, the 2012 Olympics use of volunteers, Equity’s argument that where there is public money going into an arts project all the players should get paid, the rise of celebrity status and the accompanying decline of the professional’s status, the role of class in influencing who can afford to give their time for free as a volunteer, competition in the acting profession and how volunteering offers a way forward.


Bardist! ‘As long as we continue to obsess over Shakespeare, our theatre can never move on’

With Stephen Unwin, Tim Crouch, Rae McKen, Katherine Chin, Jeremy Hardingham

Keywords; Shakespeare, Verdi, Chaucer, Ensemble, RSC, London Festival, Custom/Practice, Race, Casting,

Subject areas: relevance of Shakespeare today, the argument that there is ‘too much’ Shakespeare, the idea of a moratorium on Shakespeare productions in order to stimulate new writing, Shakespeare as a resource for contemporary playwrights, the myth of Shakespeare, directorial interpretations of the Bard, Tim Crouch’s one-person shows (Caliban, Malvolio) based on Shakespeare characters and their evolution, Shakespeare and the working-class, the cost of mounting Shakespeare, cultural charisma, classic story-telling, acting styles, literary theatre, notions of beauty, high/low culture, Shakespeare and the tourist industry, the national curriculum, Shakespeare plays as a programming ‘safe bet’ but the costs involved, the role of star actors in the economics of the Shakespeare industry.


Busted! Commercial and Professional Imperatives Profoundly Inhibit the Evolution of Ensemble Practice within the UK – Is this true?

With Tim Etchells, Richard Katz, Gillian Hannah, John Britton and Duska Radosavljevic.

Keywords; ensemble, rehearsals, performing, Complicite, Improbable, RSC.

Subject areas; ways of working, different kinds of ensemble (short and long term), Forced Entertainment and how the members work together, the evolution of theatre vocabulary in an ensemble context, devising procedures, playfulness in devising, Monstrous Regiment, womens theatre, funding from the Arts Council, threats to ensemble working, the role of the director in an ensemble, European ensemble traditions, the imperatives of the schedule when making work, ensemble as a spiritual quest, the Living Theatre, operating in opposition to the status quo, the curse of charismatic men, ensemble disguised as artistic directorship, notion of ownership, shared intuition, European v English models, the working principles that underlie ensemble practice, common commitment to an ethic, the virtue of ‘going up blind alleys’ and being able simply ‘to play’, impact of the cuts.


The Experimental Theatre of the 60s, 70s and 80s – a Profound Influence on our Culture today or Youthful Exuberance In Vain? (Part One: Womens Theatre)

With Clare Chapwell (Spare Tyre), Tash Fairbanks, Jane Boston, (Siren Theatre), Anna Furse (Goldsmiths University), Didi Hopkins, Claudia Boulton (Beryl & the Perils)

Keywords; feminism, the sixties, womens liberation, cartoon theatre, equality, democracy, campaigning, agit prop,

Subject areas; the Association of Community Theatres, Beyond the Fragments Conference, the personal is political, post-feminism (?), the sitcom Vicious, girls education, role models for women on the stage, the importance of comedy in campaigning theatre, Beryl & the Perils and Spare Tyre’s devising process, the subject of class, theatre as an arm in a political campaign, signing on as a means of survival, splits over professional v political, Womens Theatre Group, non-hierarchical ways of working, the decline of contemporary practice, Cardboard Citizens, the under-representation of women in society, how the pioneering groups of the 60s and 70s had clear goals for the transformation of society.


The Experimental Theatre of the 60s, 70s and 80s – A Profound Influence on our Culture today or Youthful Exuberance In Vain? (Part Two: Live Art)

With David Gale, Lois Keidan, Geraldine Pilgrim, Claire Macdonald.

Keywords; Lumiere & Son, live art, Hesitate & Demonstrate, Impact Theatre Co-op, experimental, alternative, People Show, Oval House, Mickery Theatre, street theatre.

Subject areas; formation of Lumiere & Son, the visual language of theatre, experimental theatre within the Oval House, John Darling inventor of collage sound, Edward Gordon Craig, Jeff Nuttall, Janet Goddard, influence of film on Impact Theatre, Impact’s working processes, the Midland Group, the ICA, how ‘performance art’ evolved as an area to be funded, Theatre Workshop and the Traverse in Edinburgh as houses for new work, Richard Demarco, how live art establishes different relationships with audiences, how the revolutions that happened in the 60s/70s at the edge have come closer to the centre, the influence of LIFT, influence of punk music, influence of the People Show, the role of the Oval House in nurturing experimental work, the de-centring of narrative, the ways in which orthodox theatre has responded to the challenge of live art, does the rule-breaking then make new rules?


The Experimental Theatre of the 60s, 70s and 80s – a Profound Influence on our Culture today or Youthful Exuberance In Vain? (Part Three: Community & Political Theatre)

With Chris Lawrence, Sue Croft, Kathleen McCreery, Roland Muldoon and Nabil Shaban (via Skype).

Keywords; community, political, theatre, CAST, Red Ladder, Broadside, politics, trades unions, touring, agit prop.

Subject areas; the relevance of political theatre today, the influence of agit prop, collaboration with workers groups to create shows, working with Aerospace, working mens clubs, history of Red Ladder, history of Graeae, Richard Tomlinson, surrealist styles of early Graeae shows, the evolution of new playwrighting especially by women, Unfinished Histories, the impact of technology on political theatre, the art of facilitating peoples voices, exchange of energies between performers and audience, the challenge of community theatre today, working with people with dementia, ‘organic communism’, community theatre in Africa, the purpose of radical theatre is to give scope to dissident voices in society ensuring that justice and equality are the main issues on the agenda the role of improvisation in political theatre, the Miners Strike, early Arts Council funding, the starting of New Variety’s regime at the Hackney Empire..


What’s Radical About Impro?

With Phelim McDermott, Jonathan Kay, Katy Schutte and Dylan Emery.

Keywords; impro, improvisation, Johnstone, Showstoppers, Improbable.

Subject area; performing as a solo improviser, Jonathan Kay’s theories about theatre and time, using improvisation with Shakespeare, the technique of everyone learning all the lines of the play, play/a play/the play, historical evolution of theatre, schooling and young people – a critique, improvisation as a reaction to orthodox theatre, improvisation as permission to follow impulses, Academy of Fools, the difference between ‘giving’ and ‘getting’ – improvisation is about the former, the practice of the Showstoppers company, Ken Campbell, indulgence in improvisation, notion of ‘the antic’, improviser as a medium, how the audience responds positively to vulnerability, the confessional aspect of impro.


Can Art Change Behaviour?

With Tim Joss (Director, Rayne Foundation), Stephen Clift, Philip Cowell (PEN), Sara Lee (Director, Music In Prisons, Annie Mckean (Winchester University), Richmond Trew and John Bergman. (Founder, Geese Theatre) via Skype

Keywords; arts, therapy, prisons, rehabilitation, transformation, justice, arts in health

Subject areas; dance and well-being, the value of singing in groups and choirs, lack of evidence base for arts in health, the power of creative play to inform behaviour in the brain, role play, working with women in prison, theatre as advocacy, how prisoners gain self-worth through a process of taking on a role in a drama context, the value of ‘playing a character’, literature ‘is the ultimate art’, the role of the funding authorities, artists asked to ‘guarantee’ their social value, the role and limitations of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, the power of theatre, the role of research and artists’ responsibilities here, how engaging in the arts helps employability, the problem of ‘shoe-horning’ a focus on certification into an experience that should be primarily inspirational, issues of data-collection, example of singing project that cost 25k to run and 250k to evaluate, the importance of narrative-making, performance as part of everyday life.


‘Staging the lives of the dead – Remembrance or Reinvention?’ – Interview with Simon Callow

Keywords; Wagner, Beyreuth, opera, classical, racism, Orson Welles,

Subject areas: the creation of one-man shows, storytelling in theatre, the influence of Simon’s grandmother, the role of personality in theatre-making, the assemblage of personality in life, Houseman’s book on Orson Welles, Vincent Price and the Mercury ensemble, the dream of ensemble, the ensemble tradition – or lack of it – at the National Theatre, the Maly Theatre under Lev Dodin, the English tradition of acting, responsibility to the truth in biographical shows, different kinds of biographical theatre, Michael MacLiammor, ‘channelling the dead’, playing Jesus, ‘Inside Wagner’s Head’, Wagner’s anti-semitism, Germans and Germany, the Greek idea of a total experience at the theatre, the almost sociopathic character of Wagner, Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, Charles Dickens.


Contemporary Theatre Requires an Audience That Co-Authors the Event’

with David Edgar, Annette Mees (Coney), Jake Orr (A Younger Theatre).

Keywords; plays, authorship, spectator, audience, Punchdrunk, Coney, Blast Theory, interactive drama, participatory theatre.

Subject areas: the audience’s journey (who should be responsible for it?), the routines and rituals of theatre-going, preferences of young people, influence of smart phones and video on theatre, dramaturgy in contemporary theatre, younger audiences interest in influencing the theatre event as spectators, Coney’s approach to creating theatre, getting theatre to new audiences, participative and interactive theatre, University Departments hostility to the written play, the devised play v the written play, the ways in which playwrighting has evolved over recent decades, Coney’s A Small Town Anywhere, the audiences’ ‘journey’, the importance of story within playwrighting, ‘fake’ and ‘authentic’ influence for an audience, Punchdrunk’s Faust, the 70s distrust of audiences, how attitudes to theatre-going are informed by what happens in schools, audiences as ‘the police’.