What kind of impact do you think Brexit will have on the London Pub Theatre scene?
I mean, are we talking about the referendum from last year or the situation that Britain will be in once the negotiations have been settled? To be honest controversial politics, like Bush, Trump and you even STILL see it with Thatcher, seem to be the easiest and the most overdone themes in terms of political theatre in Britain. I have even done it myself in my work and blatant politics definitely have a place on stage, but I guarantee when you go to Edinburgh this year there will be a million Trump or Brexit references in shows, some of it might be relevant but for the most part it will be old and done and not actually addressing the issues. I think what is way more interesting and more important is to look at WHY this is happening, lets see more shows on WHY. Why or how an archaic homophobic, pro life party could have some power in our government in 2017? We already know that they are fucking dickheads, we already know that Trump is a dickhead, so don’t tell us that, let’s look back at ourselves and see why this is happening…Or why is there a pocket of young creative Londoners with continental backgrounds voting Leave in Brexit? One of my friends who is in his early 20’s and an actor, with Italian immigrant background voted for leave. What’s that all about? Make a show about that demographic instead
LBGT work is often shown in pub theatres. We’ve seen it in Theatre 503, The Hope, King’s Head, Brockley Jack, Theatre N16 amongst others. What do you think drives this interest?
I feel that in the last couple of years it has really been a time for LGBTQ+ to shine and I think what drives the interest in London anyway is that people are wanting to talk about it more and accepting it more, which is great. People want to discuss these issues. With all oppressed pockets of society from history they will all have their turns where they come to the forefront of art at different times whether it be race, equality or class. We have also had Gay marriage legalised in 2014 and I think that has had an effect too on the interest in LGBTQ+ themes in theatre. At the same time what frustrates me about this is that I see a lot of LGBTQ+ work and it’s not always done well. Just because a topic is current doesn’t mean you HAVE to make a show about it. The best shows probably come from coincidental timing or very forward thinking theatre makers who base their work on long and thorough process.
Why aren’t there more love stories for men out there? Or are they just for the ladies?
They are definitely not just for women. I don’t like to think of love stories as for a particular gender. We all have the potential to love and we all probably have loved something or someone. Like people, a love story can come in many shapes and forms, look at Greek tragedy, so much love causing death and barbaric acts to be carried out, or Romeo and Juliet or Prior and Louis in Angels in America or Jasmine and her husband in Blue Jasmine or the love triangle in or Gasper Noé’s film Love, none of these are your conventional love story nor are they for any type of person. Love is an emotion, its not bound to gender
What changes would you like to see in pub theatres
Program more progressive work, make sure they hold onto the wonderful spirit that is Fringe pub theatre and the event of going for a wine and to watch some progressive, new, experimental work. I would also like to see pub theatres make it more attainable for small professional companies, to be able to put work on and pay people with more ease, however that’s a government and funding issue too, it doesn’t just lie in the theatres hands. But seriously when are people going to start valuing the arts as it should be valued? Pretty much everyone has some form of art in their life, everyone yet its underfunded and undervalued by the government. It pisses me off.
Bj McNeill five star production of TORN APART (DISSOLUTION) performed at The Hope Theatre 4 – 22 July 2017 Read here Next up Herstory at The Bunker Theatre in October and The Rules of Inflation (Balloons Theatre) on tour at The Amsterdam Fringe
Our guest this month: Bj McNeil, Australian writer and co-director of London based up-and-coming theatre company NO OFFENCE THEATRE