Feature in Issue 24-1 | Spring 2012

Welcome to the spring 2012 edition of Total Theatre. Do I need to remind you that this June sees the coming of the Olympics to our fair land? It’s been the subject of all sorts of debates and grumbles within the arts world, but at last – for better or worse – the time is almost nigh.

So, to provide a little background for those not from these parts, or those who are perhaps on a seven-year arts news hiatus: Given that the same government department that funds the arts is also responsible for sport, the announcement, in 2005, of London’s successful Olympic bid for 2012 was met with wary scepticism in some artistic quarters. Wouldn’t this mean that arts funding would suffer? We were reassured that alongside the Olympics would run the Cultural Olympiad, a scheme that would create a whole succession of arts events that would circle the sports events that in turn would circle the Olympics and Paralympics themselves. How exactly this would manifest remained unclear for a long time. Your trusty editor attended numerous conferences, seminars and lectures delivered by various Cultural Olympiad big-wigs and emerged none the wiser, for the most part.

Eventually it emerged that a key initiative would be the Artists Taking the Lead fund, in which, rather than spread the available money across a large number of projects, one artist or company from each UK region would get a whopping great lump sum to create an artwork for 2012 (with work in public space / work that engaged the community high on the agenda).

Of course, there was then a mad scramble, with all and sundry working in every medium and in every region putting in their bids, knowing that this was the one big pot of Cultural Olympiad funding that would be allocated – and hey presto, twelve projects were chosen. In these pages, we offer you a tour of the goods on offer, including Imagineer Production’s street theatre/large-scale puppetry initiative, Godiva Awakes; and the interesting looking Adain Avion project, a mobile art space set in a DC-9 fuselage. We also have fuller features on two of the projects that we feel might be of particular interest to Total Theatre readers: On Landguard Point by Pacitti Company, and Lone Twin’s The Boat Project.

Moving away from the Olympics – indeed, far far away to the shores of North America – our Worldview special for this issue sees Robert Ayers, a long-time resident of New York and renowned ‘voice’ on the US performance art scene, giving us the low-down on current and recent Happenings in the Big Apple. Talking of Voices, our regular feature of that name here presents Improbable’s Julian Crouch, fresh from his success with the creation of The Devil and Mister Punch (which had its UK premiere at the Barbican in February 2012). Elsewhere in the magazine, we have part two of Living Structures’ diary on the making of new show Leviathan; a personal view of the works of the internationally renowned New International Encounter; and a threeway look at the latest show from enterprising young company Little Bulb Theatre.

So plenty to tickle your fancy as the nights grow shorter and the days grow longer towards the Spring equinox – for those in the northern hemisphere anyway. As I am writing this from Brazil in February, where it is late summer and the end-of-the-holidays Carnival season, I am aware that in an increasingly international world, seasonal demarcations have very different associations!

Which brings me to say that in this new global world, Total Theatre is currently reflecting on the best way forward as the key UK publication for performer-centred, physical and visual forms of theatre. What is the best medium for our message? Does print have a special value that should be preserved, or is an electronic publication that can be subscribed to and/or an open access website the best means in this day and age? Should the focus be on UK work, or should we embrace the world a little more fully?

Your views on any of the above questions are more than welcome!

This article in the magazine

Issue 24-1
p. 4