Tonic Theatre was created in 2011 with an aim to support theatre in achieving greater gender equality in its workforces and repertoires and now they have created Platform, a new initiative that seeks to tackle the same issue from the grassroots level of youth drama.
Ashleigh Gray, a graduate fresh out of drama school, once sat wide eyed in the audience of Wicked, then turned to her friend and said "I have to play that role." Of course she meant Elphaba. A dream that many budding young starlets undoubtedly share. But for Ashleigh, this dream really did come true.
Its premise is simple but layered with complexity. Jackie (Ricardo Chavira) is out on parole and back in the arms of the woman he's loved since he was a teenager, Veronica (Flor De Liz Perez). And this time he's going to make a go of it. He's given up the drug dealing for a job as a security guard and he's got a sponsor to help with his addictions. This time he's going to get it right.
The government are not going to suddenly fund drama training for people on low incomes. Despite the proven value an excellent drama training has in equipping people for so many roles in life, as well as in the arts, it's probably a low priority with graduates from low income families in medicine, law, and so many other areas also fighting for support
Written by Hannah Khalil and directed by Audrey Sheffield, The Scar Test is set within Yarl's Wood and based on verbatim interviews of its former and present detainees. According to the interviews upon which the play is based, much of what goes on at Yarl's Wood is appalling...
Whether we're into Funny Ha-Ha or Funny Peculiar, there's an almost tangible resistance with Shakespeare's jesting, perhaps that has been genetically handed down from school, bad memories of bad jokes, badly told.
The play sees Merrick undergo deceit, trickery, mockery, cruelty, humiliation, adoration, rejection, and love, all the while suffering as the victim. However, outside of Merrick, the play in general does not have much to offer.
Directed by Matthew Dunster and given a stunning panoramic setting by Jon Bausor which added a filmic vastness to many key scenes, Betts' audacious version is by turns harrowing and hilarious, eliciting screams of joy from a good-humoured audience who were clearly grateful that the only rain they saw was on the stage.
As great enthusiast for London's theatreland, West End Live is a treasure trove filled to the brim with amazing performances, exclusive theatre experiences and all-round good fun. I go every year to see the shows I love, shows I need tickets for and maybe find out a few I don't.
The thing about art is that it asks of us everything. An artist brings to the moment of making - as painter, as actor, as welder, as dancer, as poet, as playwright, as draftsman, as precision tool engineer - every memory, every fine-tuned muscle, every last drop of knowledge and experience and focusses them all in the act of creation.
What is hang about? I cannot tell you. What happens in it? Even after watching it, I do not know for sure. Everything in this play is a little elusive. Facts, motivations, even names, place and time. Yet this is a play that plunges headlong into a dark situation where victim's justice is taken to its farthest point.
It's not just the story that has been overhauled but the production design too. Out have gone the Grecian robes and sandals to be replaced with a sparse set and simple, contemporary clothes.
Violence and Son, by Gary Owen, has given me twenty-hours of full brain gymnastics. It turns up another secret or question or punch to the face every time it ticks back through my thoughts. Teach it in every single school now.
Recently the government announced a fall in the number of young people in England who are NEET, an acronym for young people who are 'not in education, employment or training'. Yet is this fall, reflective of the aspirations of vulnerable young people looking to forge creative careers?
It's a bit of a problem though - how nice it all is. Adam Barnard's play Buckets, a series of scenes mediating on death, life, happiness, hopes and dreams, often feels like a chocolate selection box full of tweeness, and that's without even mentioning the set compromised of flowers, balloons, and a kid's slide.
Occupy London were sent packing three years ago, but the Donmar Warehouse is currently home to Temple, a play exploring what St Paul's Cathedral did when protestors set up camp outside their doors. Why put a play about them on now?