_ 'STAT E 0|: PLAY

As the Traverse Theatre‘s Silver Jubilee Season begins. we glance : over the theatres past and future.

The 'l‘raverse‘s history reads like a barometer of the changing face of fringe theatre over the past twenty-five years. From the early days. still under the shadow ofthe Lord Chamberlain. through the flamboyant late Sixties and early Seventies. 1 through the adoption of fringe theatre into the t mainstream. the remarkable Traverse has survived i It has introduced to British theatre a huge array of invaluable names actors. writers. directors and designers. both from home and abroad - and each new artistic director has developed and built on the policies oftheir predecessors. The Silver Jubilee Season. starting this month. to some extent reflects this: alongside British premieres of work by Russian writer Alexander (ielman and : East German Karge will be new British work. and ; the season opens with two plays partly in (iaelic. The first. The Straw Chair will tour Scotland. partly thanks to collaboration with Focus Theatre Company and support from the Post Office. This sort ofcollaboration and search for a wider audience very much reflects the theatre‘s present mood. ‘The whole idea is to try and maintain the experiment ofthe early times. but make it more


Le Lavoir. Festival 1987.

With the Eighties. again buildingand developingon what had gone betore. Peter Lichtentelsbegantolookai I newdirectionstortheatre. , postnaturaiism. As wellas continuingto present British premieres oiioreign . writing(includingWoza i Albert! in 1982). Lichteniels g puton newpiays byyoung I writerswho wereiocusing noton domestic. small-scaledramain realistic settings. but

ud. Festival 1987.

Losing Venice. lees.

Tom McGrath‘s The Hard Man. 1977. Photo: David Liddle. Silnon Callow. Festival 1984.

86 and Le Lavoirirom France in 87; staging work by Mario Vargas Llosa in 86 and the hugely successiul Man to Man by Mantred Karge in 87.

arguments about levels ofsubsidy: encouraging wider audiences should help. As long as the ' theatre remains in its current tiny building. however. even with packed houses it can only : survive with subsidy. The Traverse is seriously looking at the idea of moving to a larger building in the hope that with the potential for larger audiences the theatre will achieve a degree more financial independence allowing it to do more and be more daring. It is one approach to a question that has hovered over the theatre for much of its life: how to combine being experimental with being accountable for sums of public money. Another option could perhaps have been to go I ‘underground' again. At twenty-five the Traverse's problems and solutions to them perhaps reflect the current state of theatre as much i l as did the little auditorium twenty-five years ago.

dealing WW1 large. Often 5 accessible to more people.‘ says Jenny Killick. “5‘0"?” memesand i For her. theatre in the Eighties has to try and egplfig'i'l‘glghe W'y‘s'c‘a' recover the excitement and close communication . no”? Jog" csnkrgi {gang ' achieved by some of the classics if it is to compete l i it Venice(85) has since gone with other creative media. This desire for i on to mu, the world. "was ; openness and communication shows in the l . directed byJenny Killlck.“ theatre‘s policy—touringabroad. collaborating i wasthe tine British I with other theatres and using new venues. i premiere 0' Through "‘8 . Partly a positive step towards survival. i Leavesbvfiermanwriter f financiallyand artistically. this thinking hasled to g F'g'iu my" “0:.” (85)' t a decisive step in the theatre‘s history this year ; _ __ Lichrgazrscffigs? Jenny 7 the Traverse dismantles its membership system Kim“ has continue'd to I 9 (though audience members can still be actively .t t develop on both mesa involved by joining an Associate scheme). From .. g strands oi artistic policy, now on the Traverse will no longer be a theatre _ l while addressingthe l g club. so removing what has become a rather ' "‘“Ws'manc'a' . 5: negative legacy ofthe Sixties. with its elitist i resmcnons' She has I E E overtones. Perhaps this too reflects how Fringe : gonégnrgzdaigeflfgge 5 l theatre has changed: from the need for closed g . [a f E 1 doors to the need to open them as wide as possible. ; international and national .l y .. I y. _ W a ._ ' l _ _ . new writing during the 3 . The decision has 1m olv ed refurbishment and 1,, _. ; Festiva|-minging ova, t g i llnanClal risk. though ultimatelythe Traverse hope ; f :— " ; Markenheatre. i it will help solve their financial problems. The t -~ 7;}; | Johannesburg’s Bophaiin 2 i theatre has often faced fmancraldlfflcultles and . i 8 5 E

e‘ '

' t p Q A book on the Traverse, written by J oyc‘e Bopha!, MarketTheaire. Johannesburg. Festival 1986.

Mr‘flIiIImI. is published by Met/men in A ugusl. i


The List 18-31 March 19887