Earlier this Autumn, SUN was shortlisted for Theatre Royal Haymarket's development scheme 'Pitch Your Play'. We sent in a very thorough cover letter illustrating our vision of the project, a version of the script and a synopsis of the play. A couple of weeks later, Alan received a call from Hazel telling us we were one of six shortlisted for the three residencies. We went in for a conversation with a panel of producers.
Though National Art Service did not secure a residency on the scheme, the conversation we had with Siobahn, Blayne and Richard was important, nourished with a palpable energy forward moving, textured and kinetic. Andrea, Alan and I (Jemima) had a chat about it afterwards...
Jemima: How was that experience for you?
Andrea: The first thing I saw when I walked in were three beautiful smiles looking at us, really friendly and open to what it was that we had to say. I was thinking that they would very judgemental and they were going to be really harsh because we knew it wasn't a "West End show" that we were pitching to them... They spoke to us like we were equals and i think that is so important. The way they facilitated that conversation with us, was spot on. And they welcomed us to the theatre and to the possibility of doing something there. I think that within 30 minutes, we got super valuable lessons. Knowing that they weren't worried about putting our show on, but about us choosing to put our show there... which I think is incredibly humble and really fucking good advice. I think that made us feel;
- one - we have incredible potential and that's very nice to hear from industry professionals but also
- two - that the west end is not all it seems and I think that's important for people like us... I mean, I get caught up in the whole "West End is shit", "it should be fringe" "it should be independent productions", "I'm not moved by things in the west end", but they made me realise, this whole meeting made me realise that there's an opportunity for conversation and it's already happening...
in a space like that
He said something like... 'of course you working with us would be good because when the industry tanks, the BAC [Battersea Arts Centre] will go bust, but we [The West End] won't.'
Andrea: So how do we do it?
Jemima: I'd like to see a future where everything goes bust and both the BAC and the Theatre Royal Haymarket carry on living. And I think that can happen if more of this kind of work goes up in the West End.
Andrea: Exactly, exactly, exactly... I completely agree with you Jemima because at the end of the day, whether they go bust or not depends on the people who go! It's like a democracy; it's like politics. If you vote, you get politicians; if you go to the theatre, you get theatre... And if you choose to only attend this one type of theatre than that will be the type of theatre that exists. But if that venue takes, if a west end venue can take its place as theatre not as a venue, programming a wider spectrum of work - moving back to the roots of theatre as a means of communication, of imagining a future - then all types of theatre will survive as long as it has a strong message... which in a way is what the National does if you think about it...
Jemima: I think the Barbican does that a little bit.
Andrea: Yes, especially with The Shed now and everything... it's happening! I personally got a kick, I got a kick from it [the conversation]. I still think about it now. It's one of those memories, it leaves in the morning a feeling, a resonance. Oh, let's go outside for a cigarette...
Jemima: Alan, anything more to add?
Alan: Not at all. Shall we go outside?
Pitch Your Play will be staging readings of Hatchling by Poppy Corbett (08/11/13), The Favorite by Cathy Thomas (06/12/13) and The Undone Years by Simon Cotton (31/01/14) at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.
For more information: http://www.masterclass.org.uk/events
NAS would like to thank Blayne, Hazel, Siobahn and Richard for their time and inspiration.