whole rising was almost theatrical. It wasn‘t a very practical uprising: it was more a symbol. a metaphor for Irish freedom.
‘But obviously. Irish culture goes back beyond that. The whole literary and imaginative heritage of Irish people continually draws on mythology. Cuchulain. the archetypal Irish hero. provided
inspiration for a lot ofthe
nationalists. including Pearse who led the rising. Today. you find people like Bobby Sands; he drew on Pearse‘s writing for
The Wrestling school.
The Abbey Theatre - set up in 1916 almt asv rebellious act against Britain.
inspiration. So there is this very close. and at times obviously dangerous. line between politics and art in Ireland and they draw from each other. I think you could argue that the political sphere is almost as theatrical as the theatrical sphere.
‘Because of the troubles in the north. the whole subject of nationalism and patriotism has become a bit taboo. It‘s certainly there in Irish people in an imaginative. artistic and cultural way. but the fact that its practical realisation today seems to be in terms ofthe IRA makes people embarrassed. The Irish are continually trying to prove to the English and others. “Look. we don’t all go around killing people." and continually
. tryingto apologise for
‘But. that said. there is a deep-rooted emotional affinity for all that. While 95 per cent of people would tell you that they wanted nothing to do with the IRA. there was a tremendous
WALES: ; Brith Got:
1 about a national theatre as ifwe
‘ knew what we meant — a kind of building 11. .rhich a heritage of
dramatic literature is presented. ' We don‘t have a great tradition
expounding texts which in the I Welsh canon range from preaching to political oratory.
well ofemotion when the hunger-strikers started to die. Irish people are quite taken by the idea of selfsacrifice. the whole romantic myth of being a hero and being a patriot. That is part ofour imaginative
Mike Pearson, director ‘Recently. we‘ve talked a lot
of drama in Wales but I think we
certainly have national theatre if
not A National Theatre. Welsh companies over the past 20 years in the themes that they tackle. in the techniques that they use. in the placement oftheir performances. really are concerned with their own nation.
‘Neil Wallace has said that we could only have made our work in Wales. In a way that‘s very true. In our early work. we were very influenced by the mythical past of Wales. The Welsh traditions of poetics and songs have been deeply important to us. albeit that we may now use 20.000 watts and not a solo voice. But nevertheless. the fact that our performers sing as much as they speak is deeply rooted in the culture that we come from. We’re interested in different methods of
‘At the moment we try to build everything. not just the architecture but even a climate: we‘re interested in rain and atmosphere. At some point we said “Enough's enough“. We can continue to live in some sort of national ghetto but the little guy‘s voice is increasingly important in a disintegrating Europe. Ifwe‘re going to make people outside our nation listen to us. then we‘ve got to prove that we don‘t conform to national stereotypes of being quiescent and down-trodden. And ifwe‘re going to say it. we may as well say it as loudly as possible.
‘Michael Billington (of The Guardian) has said that Welsh theatre is increasingly to do with performance art. That‘s only because he doesn’t understand part ofit. It‘s easy to think that our work is all about spectacle. purely a visual dimension. But actually things are being said in a kind ofsecret language which
only our audience in Wales will intimately understand. And I think that it‘s important to preserve that so that we don‘t
become international in the
worst sense ofthe word. like some kind of homogenous European theatre.‘
ENGLAND: The Wrestling School:
Kenny Ireland, director ‘I think possibly one ofthe
reasons we’ve been chosen for this season is that we don‘t believe in a theatre of celebration. I definitely feel that you‘ve got to ask lots of questions. We’re called the Wrestling School for two reasons: because we want to wrestle. but also because we feel we have an audience who want to wrestle. That‘s why you leave the theatre after a Howard Barker play not being able to put your finger immediately on what it meant — you have to have the courage that somebody next to you might see something totally different.
‘What Howard feels. and I also think. is that ifyou‘re doing agitprop — theatre of solidarity or celebration — your audience is coming along to be stroked. and you can‘t ask very serious deep questions. You end up heading towards the lowest common denominator. He was very much turning out plays that were complex and beautifully written but you couldn‘t pin them down — managements were wary of them. I believe that there is an audience — though it may be a small one — that wants that kind oftheatre.
‘I also believe an audience can survive the odd moment ofnot knowing what the piece means. but you have to give them something in its place. so visually and theatrically it's very rich. I don‘t think there‘s any question ofit being a hard cold. intellectual evening in the theatre.
‘Iloward has said that maybe someday people will view the theatre as being like a place of work. I don‘t know ifI‘d go that far. but I think it should be like a library -— rather than sit there with your arms folded and an
expression of “Go on. entertain me" — the idea being that you’d go there to join with the actors and director and writer to discover something. I think it‘s essential that the theatre should become like that. I don‘t think we can compete in the area of pure entertainment. with film and television doing that so
The List 30 August I: September 10019