An election campaign is imminent. We can be in no doubt that it will bring with it a variety of performances of leadership, authority, authenticity and honesty. How might theatre respond? What kind of politics can theatre today present or enact? Can theatre be a medium of deliberation, debate and dissent and in what spaces might it flourish?

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Politics is about selling trust, and sometimes that is little than more 'better the devil you know'... A General Election is that time when politicians lick the hands that feed them.

The interaction of election politics takes place on doorsteps and in community/church/village/scout halls where like-minded, not to say single-interest, groups gather together in hustings to listen, question and learn as the politicians rehearse their craft. They're not really the kind of places where opinions are formed. It is those halls too that the little wooden, curtained hutches are erected. It's where we go on a certain (yet-to-be-decided but most-likely) Thursday to make our marks and there where we run the gauntlet of like-minded, not to say single-interest, exit-pollsters. You have to believe to even make the effort.

How should theatre respond?
Powerfully, and with imagination. With passion and rage. In defence of society's desperate need for the humanity and curative power of theatre.

What kind of politics?
Theatre must be free to debate all ideas and points of views (and not behave in the manner of craven councillors desperate to avoid a democratic argument that might upset a constituent opinion) (yes, you, Dudley Council). "All politics are local" is generally masked by the national news/tabloid agenda.
So, here's an agenda:
Afghanistan; Chillcot; defence spending: The Environment (always with initial caps); the economy; social services; the health service; unions; stikes; the law; injunctions; super-injunctions (you must have heard about them!); education; the elderly; crime and disorder; sport; leisure, politicians' expenses, taxes and (oh, what is it?) art.
Or none of the above.

Actually, that's the concept I would really like to explore in a theatrical context: NONE OF THE ABOVE. What would it do to democracy if the ballot box allowed NONE OF THE ABOVE? What would it do to politicians who would now realise that they are valued at less than the ink on a ballot paper?

How should/can/might the NTW respond to a General Election? I vote for NONE OF THE ABOVE.
More information on this event:

National Theatre Wales,

The Centre for the Study of Culture and Politics (Swansea University)
The Callaghan Centre for the study of Conflict, Power and Empire (Swansea University)



Publics, Performances, Participation and Persuasion

A day of discussion and debate

April 23rd


Reading Room, The Old Library, Alexandra Road, Swansea.

With an election campaign underway – bringing with it all sorts of performances of leadership, authority, authenticity and honesty – now is a good time to think about the theatre of politics and the politics of theatre.

This conference/workshop will be an opportunity for drama and theatre practitioners, artists, political theorists, philosophers, critics, historians and others to reflect on political theatre (its content, form, past, present and future) and on the theatre of politics.

Focusing in particular on the concepts of public, performance, participation and persuasion our discussions will also address questions about the nature of contemporary public space and spectacle and how dramatic arts can contribute to understanding, or transforming them; about the uses of theatre as a way of thinking about and provoking politics; and about the performances of politicians and how dramatic practices can illuminate them.

This event is open to all and is free to attend, but registration is requested (please see below).


9.30-10.00 Arrival and Coffee

10.00-12.00 The Politics of Theatre

In the first half of the day we shall reflect on the politics of theatre. Questions that might be addressed include: What forms can political theatre take? Must a political theatre adopt a particular sort of dynamic or open relationship with its audience? What are the politics of non-political theatre? What kinds of public does theatre bring into being? How can theatre explore and make more clearly known relations between peoples, publics, places and spaces?

Discussion will be free flowing but with contributions from Alan Finlayson (Swansea University), Prof. David George (Swansea University), John McGrath (National Theatre Wales), Rowan O’Neill, Adam Somerset and others.

12.00-1.00 Lunch

1.00–3.00 The Theatre of Politics

This half of the day will focus on the theatre of politics. As the General Election campaign comes to a peak what kinds of performances are our politicians putting on? Is it helpful to see politics in terms of performances? How has (and how might) theatre responded to the spectacle of contemporary politics and can it propose alternative kinds of participation and persuasion?

Discussion will be free flowing but with contributions from Prof. Nikki Cooper (Swansea University), Stephen Donnelly (ShellShock Theatre), Andy Field (Forest Fringe) Mathilde Lopez (National Theatre Wales) and others.

3.00-3.30 Discussion of Future Activities

About the Venue

The venue is the reading room of the Old Library on Alexandra Road, Swansea, W Glam SA1. Formerly Swansea Central Lending and Reference Library. It is now part of Swansea Metropolitan University’s Welsh School of Architectural Glass and has also been a venue for drama ranging from BBC Wales’ Doctor Who to Volcano Theatre’s ‘Shelf Life’, in April 2010.


Publics, Performances, Participation and Persuasion

April 23rd

Reading Room, The Old Library, Alexandra Road, Swansea.


The workshop/conference is free but in order to plan for the right number we need people to register their intention to attend. Please complete the form below and return to:

Participant information

Affiliation/Organisation (if any): _________________________________________________________

Contact Address:_____________________________________________________________________
Email: ______________________________________________________________________

Would you like to be contacted about future events around the themes of drama/theatre and politics (please indicate): Yes / No

I've been trawling through the NTW site to find some/any info about the Forest fringe event in Swansea & the Assembly activities. Whilst the first remains a mystery - it was good to see your post Alan about the conference. Apparently there is a session at the end of the afternoon about the future of the Reading Room. Just to let you know that I have contacted the VC at the Met to discuss a Taliesin proposal.....
If anyone has any information about the other NTW Swansea events - can they post them on the site please? Information seems to very hard to get!
Hi Sybil,
Everything is now gathered, linked and featured on the main page of the community and there is a discussion opened in the Assembly group.
The Forest Fringe call for artists has been up for the last 3 months and the assembly event posted 3 weeks ago but maybe not as visible and accessible as I thought.
I hope you'll now find all the informations required.
If not please do contact me.
Hi Mathilde

Thanks for this. Was a bit frustrated as the leaflet was out 2 weeks ago (although we haven't had any for distribution in Taliesin) so it was disappointing that there was nothing on the front page of the site until now. I had also hoped to see some information about the content of the Forest Fringe event as nothing posted really since the call for artists. The Assembly section was a bit hard to find & again some info on content would be useful. I still don't know who it's aimed at - who do you want to be there? Without that it just seems a bit random.
I understand, we have had a change of location 2 weeks ago which took a lot of our attention and time as we had to rethink and reorganise the 2 events in a new space.
I'll make sure you are sent some flyers and posters today.
The Forest Fringe's content has been changing and still is therefore except the groups mentioned in the common flyer (like Random people, Ed Rapley, Lucy Ellinson or Shellshock Theatre) content is still evolving.
It is the same for Assembly, the participants devise the content and the special guests their discussions. It is the nature of the event to always retains a certain amount of surprises.
I promise taht both will be exciting though and hope to see you there!
Will we get to go down to the woods for the Forest Fringe? I was imagining strange and liminal happenings in Bishopswood! Shadows, fairies and nymphs, huge fearful creatures and a silent wind that would blow through us. It's the 'forest' bit that caught me!! Hope you have fun.
Hi Tracy,
No Forest but fairies, nymphs, huge fearful creatures and silent wind will be there! So come and join us this Friday and Saturday at Monkey and join the party!
I am in rehearsal with the assembly team and enjoying every minute of it x


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