You could say a hell of a lot has happened in the last 20 days since the result of the EU Referendum. I’m still in a state of shocked anger over Brexit and can’t really accept it. I don’t care if you’re sick of hearing it; as soon as we’re sick of it, that’s it, they’ve got us exactly where they want us.
In my mind, it seems like we’ve woken up to a completely warped “United” Kingdom; Cameron’s bailed, May’s on board, Boris is somehow our Foreign Secretary and our economy is going down the plug hole.
It’s difficult to feel cheery about anything right now.
But what’s going to happen to the theatre industry?
Well, a whopping 96% of creative industries planned to vote remain, so we damn well tried at least. Things are looking a tad uneasy for us. For example:
Our €1.3 billion funding from the Creative Europe Programme could be in jeopardy.
Brexit could have an effect on our ability to train in European institutions.
The uncertainty of obtaining Visas could make it very difficult for theatre companies to go on European tours.
Emotionally, our society is broken. The theatre industry has always been about empathy and acceptance of all cultures and walks of life; the racist aftermath of Brexit threatens this.
And yes, apparently the massive amounts of money we will save by leaving the European Union will go towards our country, and (apparently) the arts.
Did I just see David Cameron’s pig fly?
Needless to say, I’m angry. I am extremely upset that my children will never be able to experience the rich culture and acceptance our country once had.
But, I live in hope.
Alastair Spalding, artistic director of Sadler’s Wells puts it perfectly:
“The significant role that the arts play in fostering empathy, understanding and tolerance of other views and cultures and building community cohesion will be more essential than it’s ever been.”
As an industry, we are outspoken and defiant. Although Brexit seems like a massive threat to the creative industries, we’ve worked through tougher times before, and we’ll do it again. National Theatre director, Rufus Norris stated that British theatre relies on the “free exchange of ideas, talent and creativity” and that NT would “remain resolutely committed” to maintaining collaboration with the rest of the world.
And what do we do when we hit tough political times? We create bloody good stuff. Samira Ahmed wrote a brilliant article in The Big Issue this week about the TV play Cathy Comes Home, which after fifty years hauntingly mirrors what we’re experiencing now: “angry people blaming immigrants for their housing problems. Locals burning down the caravans of the undesirables camped nearby.”
History always does repeat itself.
And how can we forget David Hare’s response to the Iraq war in his play, ‘Stuff Happens’? Also, a play I studied in third year, Back of the Throat by Yussef El Guindi springs to mind; this play challenged the growing fear and suspicion of Arab-Americans post 9/11.
Art challenges, art invites open discussions, and sometimes, art fixes.
But this time, we might need some extra strength super glue.