Over the last few months it has been really interesting for me to go back to the 1990’s and to a time when I was personally just beginning to experience what theatre could be.
Researching plays of the era it was exciting to discover that before the likes of Sarah Kane and Mark Ravenhill were hitting the headlines with their debut works, there were many writers and plays that seemingly set the tone for what became known as the ‘In Yer Face’ movement. Of course one of these was deservedly Anthony Nielson, who continues to make groundbreaking theatre to this day; but there were others, and Simon Donald seems to have been one of them.
Whilst The Life of Stuff (1993) offers up much that can connect it to the movement that follows, it also stands alone as a brilliantly funny black comedy, arguably even a farce that re-ignites an established form of theatre with contemporary personalities and concerns. Discovering this has been a joy, and seeing it come to life in our tiny black box space continues to fill me with wonder, as I watch the play break free from the limitations of the space and simultaneously bring some of that familiar 1990’s shock and awe into collision with the present day. It’s a strange, joyous thought-provoking experience, establishing the future by illuminating the past.
It is therefore a great pleasure to be able to host a forthcoming discussion around these issues with a panel of four esteemed theatre professionals:
Mel Kenyon (Literary Agent – Mark Ravenhill/Sarah Kane)
Jack Bradley (Literary Associate for Sonia Friedman Productions and Literary Manager of The National Theatre 1995-2007)
Ian Brown (Artistic Director Traverse Theatre 1988-1999 and West Yorkshire Playhouse 2002-2012)
Stephen Greenhorn (Playwright and screenwriter, co-writer of ‘Sleeping Around’ (1998) with Abi Morgan and Mark Ravenhill)
All of whom were involved in making the theatre of this era actually happen. It will take place after the performance of The Life of Stuff on 23rd April, so come see the show then stick around for what should prove to be a lively discussion. It’ll be a great night; I look forward to seeing you there!
– Steve Harper, Literary Manager at Theatre503.