VANISHING POINT STATEMENT ON THE IMMEDIATE AND LONGTERM FUTURE
This is a vital time.
We’ve thought really hard about it and decided to focus on the thing we believe in the most.
All of our efforts and resources will be spent on preparing for the moment when we can gather again in theatres, to celebrate and value the importance of theatre: live theatre and live assembly.
For that reason we’ve chosen, instead of creating online content – which is not really our thing – to stop for a while, conserve our energies, bide our time, influence developments and focus our minds on thinking for the future - until such time we can make live shows again.
Theatre finds itself in grave danger. At this vital time, we will make the case for its social value both politically and artistically. We risk undervaluing our artform by rushing to create content online. By presenting it in a context that shows its strengths as weaknesses we are in danger of exposing it, both to enemies of arts subsidy and funders looking for ways of spending less on more. Let’s not do theatre a disservice. If our society values the importance and uniqueness of the live arts (and theatre is a live art), our government needs to support and protect its workforce and organisations in a unique way – whether that’s directors, writers, designers, production teams, producers and so on. People can’t go back to work until there is something or someone to work for. Shops might open soon, but not theatres - so job retention and organisational support schemes need to reflect this. We need to argue politically and artistically for the theatre as an intrinsically unique case - there is nothing else like it. So we’re putting our minds to that.
In our own small way, we are doing our bit to support or engage artists and production staff as much as we can. We paid all staff to the end of their contracts when The Metamorphosis and The Metamorphosis Unplugged were cancelled. We were in the privileged position to be able to do so. Since April we have paid a number of freelance people – actors, designers, directors and production staff - a fee to spend some of their time having ideas about their work in relation to the theatre of the future. We believe offering them some time and space to collect, dream and think without any pressure to immediately be ‘creative’ or ‘productive’, is extremely important.
OUR IMMEDIATE FUTURE:
The first live event we are focussing on is our presentation of the Italian-language version of The Metamorphosis with Emilia Romagna Teatro, Italy, in October. It will happen in one of three ways:
- As originally planned - as a national tour of Italy with other international dates to follow. Or:
- If that will not be possible, as an extended presentation at Teatro Bonci in Cesena. But:
- If, due to regulations, our audience must be socially distant, we will re-create the performance site-responsively at Teatro Bonci.
Italy gives us hope that, perhaps slowly, we can start to move towards the resumption of live performance. We are really excited to be continuing our relationship with one of Europe’s most forward-thinking, ambitious theatre organisations. We appreciate their commitment to live theatre and to working with us through these vital times.
We plan to tour the English-language version of The Metamorphosis in Scotland and the UK in February, March and April 2021. We are in close communication with all our wonderful partners including our co-producers at The Tron and will make a call later this year as to whether this will be possible. This will depend on a few things:
- The venues themselves and the decisions they must make.
- Whether we will be able to sell tickets as we would like. We’re not worried whether people will return to the theatre. We believe they will. But we’re not keen to dot people around the auditorium. Not without reconceiving the show so we can use this constraint creatively and as part of the form. So:
- If we can only sell tickets with social distancing, we will wait and push the tour back to autumn 2021.
We will create and tour The Metamorphosis Unplugged to small-scale venues, community halls and other spaces around Scotland in either April/May, or autumn, 2021. This will depend on our dialogue with our partners, each of those venues with whom we have developed important relationships over the past few years and each of whom we think of as a unique partner, for whom we are delivering a unique performance, rather than a ‘touring venue’. We will travel to as many venues as we can, offering audiences ‘a good night out’ – a fun show, a warm invitation to a live and informal storytelling event with music. We will make a commitment to offer employment to the same creative and performance team originally in place to make the show in 2020.
THINKING ABOUT THE FUTURE:
- We make the commitment, despite mounting barriers, to continue making world-class international theatre with partners from across Europe and the world. A ‘flagship’ annual show will tour across Scotland to mid-scale venues and internationally.
- We will create TWO OTHER NEW SHOWS each year:
The first of these will be focussed on touring ‘a good night out’ to small-scale venues across Scotland (but will be able to ‘scale up’ for bigger venues). We will aim to tour to at least 14 venues. This show will be directed by the recipient of our Associate Director Scheme, which enables a director to assist Matthew Lenton to direct the ‘flagship’ show before creating, casting, preparing and directing the smaller-scale touring show. Anyone will be able to apply for this and the person will be selected through a transparent interview process.
The second show will be a new work, presented for a short run at a theatre in either Glasgow or Edinburgh, potentially both, proposed to us by an ‘early career/emerging’ (call it what you like) director. The aim of this work will be to showcase the ideas and creative work of this director. And thrill audiences. Anyone can apply. We will be looking for brilliant ideas.
- These shows will place the creative process in the hands of new artists and directors. We will produce their work for them. In time, we hope to produce more, wider, further.
- We will continue to tour our portfolio of work internationally: Interiors to Japan (2022) and The Dark Carnival to China (2021/22).
PRODUCING NEW ARTISTS:
Leading on from these commitments, we hope to be able to work increasingly as a Theatre Producer. This will begin with the progamme of work outlined above but, with time, we aim to produce the work of a range of artists, especially directors, sometimes writers who might be commissioned by those directors, to create and tour work at all sorts of venues and places throughout Scotland. We want to encourage big-thinking, authorship and maverick approaches among directors willing to make a commitment to audiences across Scotland, to making Scotland culturally distinctive and internationally renowned as a great small nation.
As the funding landscape changes, we will try to democratise the artistic process of the work we produce as much as possible. We’re still thinking about this. What about something like the Dogme ’95 rules for film? A maximum (or – better – minimum) cast size? A set consisting of whatever can be found nearby on the day of arrival at a venue? A maximum amount of lighting cues? Only live sound? Nobody may fly to a venue? Level the playing field. People not things.
In the end, we will all have to work together much more closely to continue to create the sort of outward-looking, artistically adventurous theatre that audiences in Scotland deserve.
We have to hold on tight to our principles.
We have to evolve.