So I’m gonna jump right in with some hard hitting, very important news, which I, myself, discovered just recently. Are you ready? Here it is. Vanilla soy milk is delicious. Readers, as I write this blog post I am drinking coffee with vanilla soy milk and it is giving me so much life. (Just don’t put it in your tea, it’s…just don’t.) Okay, let’s have some actual news.
So I guess I missed the announcement of this festival when Theresa May launched it back in 2018? But I’m reading about it now and…okay, here’s the quote that starts off the article:
‘The organisers of a £120m national festival to be staged in 2022 have put out a call for creative minds to come up with “daring, new and popular” ideas to bring the UK together after Brexit.‘
Maybe I’m just cynical but in my experience ‘daring and new’ and ‘popular’ ideas in the world of art are usually…kind of mutually exclusive. Like, pantos are popular but by and large I think it’s safe to say they’re not progressing any conversations with daring ideas. According to the BBC report, chief creative officer Martin Green, who will be selecting the ten final events for the lineup, hopes that the festival ‘can help heal the divisions surrounding the UK’s departure from the EU, and showcase British creativity to the world’.
I have a lot of thoughts on this and I’m going to keep most of them to myself but what I will say is: if a national festival is needed to heal the public after a major political decision, might it be an indication that the decision was a bad one?
Asked whether such an event can realistically heal divisions that have come to the fore in recent years as a result of political processes, Mr Green replies: “I would say that I imagine it has a powerful role to play.”
The framing here is just fascinating; Brexit is being viewed here as a national trauma, something that needs to be recovered from, that the public needs to heal from. That language of stress and recovery is powerful. And maybe a big festival will be a nice little release valve but — and I do heartily believe in the power of art — I doubt it will be even a baby step in the direction of ‘healing divisions’. I’ll be interested to see the eventual lineup (by which I mean ‘I wonder how white it will be’).
I’m not crying, you’re crying! (I’m not, I promise.) So this is basically the new ‘We Are the World’ except it’s raising money for theatre charities like the Theatre Artists Fund and MusiCares. Also the song is way better. It’s called ‘Imagine a World that Didn’t Sing’ and the lyrics were adapted from a song in the 2019 musical ‘& Juliet’ to reference a bunch of the West End and Broadway musicals that have had to close due to coronavirus.
It started off as a small project with members of the British Youth Music Theatre but it grew very quickly and now it’s become a huge transatlantic collaboration with seriously high-profile West and and Broadway names singing alongside the original BYMT folks. So bravo to everyone involved!
Lorraine Hansberry Theatre Names Margo Hall Artistic Director
The Lorraine Hansberry Theatre in San Francisco has welcomed its first ever female Artistic Director! Woohoo! Margo Hall is an actor, director, playwright and educator with a seriously impressive background. And alongside her appointment, they’ve also announced the new Lorraine Hansberry Theatre Fund for New Black Voices, which ‘dedicates resources to supporting rising Black playwrights, directors, choreographers, actors, and theatremakers’.
As Hall looks toward the future with her company, she said she hopes to see more young, Black female or non-binary playwrights come out of the theatre’s incubator and go on to see work produced throughout the country.
If you’re feeling like Lorraine Hansberry is a really familiar name but you can’t figure out why? She wrote A Raisin in the Sun, which was her best-known work by far, and Les Blancs, which was finished by her ex-husband Robert Nemiroff and premiered after Hansberry died in 1965 at age 34.
The Lorraine Hansberry Theatre don’t currently have a permanent performing home, which his one of the things Margo Hall would like to change during her tenure; they perform regularly at the Buriel Clay Theater at the African American Art and Culture Complex.
Look how excited those stock image people are! They’re SO EXCITED! And you should be excited, too, because there are a lot of cool opportunities this week. I’ve rounded up a few of the best below.
Pintsized Productions Presents: CityScapes: Northern Irish performers/writers needed for an online showcase of monologues
INO Outreach: An Open Call to Artists: Irish National Opera is looking to assemble a panel of varied artists with experience in planning and delivering outreach projects
River Residencies: Open Call: The River Residencies will connect artists with rural communities along the River Shannon in Ireland during the Spring and Summer of 2021
And this is where I leave you, dear readers. I’ll be keeping it a little shorter and a little sweeter from now on because I’ve been joined on the news team by two incredible interns! They’ll be covering news every day on the TheatreMaker.ie blog so do check out their work.
TTFN – Ta Ta For Now!
COVID-19 Support for Ireland’s QTIPOC Community: Organized by Origins Eile who featured on last night’s episode of Stage Door Live
COVID-19 Rescue & Resource Guide: From the School of Bravery, which I hadn’t heard of until very recently. This is aimed at humans of the U.S.A. but there’s plenty of digital content that can be accessed from anywhere. Very broad spectrum of resources here.