Walking the Tightrope: The Tension between Art and Politics @ The Theatre Delicatessen Review

They say that politics is absolutely everywhere, and with the Arts, there’s no doubt that politics plays a heavy part in the type of theatre being created, funding opportunities for emerging playwrights and the issue of censorship. Who are theatrical pieces created for? The public? The audience? The nation? The role of the theatre within western history has been to educate, to satirise, to question, to evoke discussion…the list goes on and on, however we find that within a very progressive climate, issues such as racial discrimination, censorship and unpaid internships continue to persist.

Walking the Tightrope

A week long gathering of 12 short pieces of theatre, both Offstage Theatre and Theatre Uncut join forces to create a think tank of issues within the arts that perhaps get sidelined or misrepresented. Curated and directed by Artistic Director of Offstage Theatre, Cressida Brown, highlights of the evening include Sarah Solemani‘s Acting Towards the Promotion of Peace, a satirical piece examining the fickle nature of the mainstream press as a trio of smartly dressed, headline driven individuals finish off each other’s sentences, speak jargon and attempt to one up one another with their vacuous suggestions. Evan Placey‘s Band Wagon cleverly pokes fun at the supposedly democratic system adopted within the UK, whereby leaders of political parties are voted in ‘fair and square’ and appear to work for the greater good. This playful piece of theatre humorously breaks down the petty nature of politicians depicted within the House of Lords and Commons by comparing the construct of political parties to an aspiring school band, aptly titled ‘Liberal Republic’ with an overbearing lead singer. Gbolahan Obisesan‘s Re:Exhibit explores the issue of type casting, in particular the narrow minded perception of black actresses within both the film and television industry. The piece allows for Naomi Ackie‘s determined protagonist to fight the humiliation experienced whilst auditioning for a film role and educate the so called, all knowing, all important director of the casting.

With the ethos of theatre not just being a one sided experience whereby the audience pay for a ticket, watch a show without any involvement and leaving, Walking the Tightrope highlights the otherwise interdependent process of theatre making by allowing for a Q and A session to conclude the evening with some of the issues raised in the performances. This generates a heated discussion consisting of issues such as the power of money and whether there is such a thing as clean money. The very topical issue of the freedom of speech is briefly discussed, with questions arising as to whether such a thing actually exists. The inclusion of the Q and A at the end of the evening allows for a dialogue to occur between both the audience and the cast/writers/directors without awkward moments of the cast interacting with the audience whilst performing. Many of the performances feel similar in tone, this may be due to the similarity of themes explored and the cast playing multiple roles. There are a few plays that I’d be intrigued to see developed, however there are plays that I could not relate to or identify with. 3/5

Review written by Lucy Basaba.

Walking the Tightrope: The Tension bewteen Arts and Politics is currently showing at the Theatre Delicatessen until Saturday 31st January. For more information on the production, visit here…

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