Third Tuesday Salons number 1

We met in the Anson Room, what was obviously the sitting room of St Margaret’s House, where the settlement workers must have met among the bound volumes of Shaw and Galsworthy to share the events of their day, working among the East London poor. It’s an atmospheric room, early evening sunlight pouring in slantwise, big leather sofas, polished wood, even a spinning wheel. Perhaps a little incongruous for our topic. Perhaps not.
We ranged in age from 20s to 70s, students, practitioners, volunteers, recipe for some very fruitful exchanges. The advertised topic was ‘The Alternative Theatre Movement Then – How Can It Inspire Us Now?’ Wine, tea and orange juice. Lots of conversation and good connections made.
And a series of questions on the flip-chart:
‘How does history get mapped onto contemporary practice?
Should alternative be seen as alternative to the Academy? – has the Academy ‘colonised’ what was alternative theatre practice? Does today’s discourse of the what was expressed through the alternative theatre movement take other forms: blogging, pop-up events, the Occupy movement, social networks, flashmobs, DIY film?
Who from the younger generation should we invite? What is the relationship between contemporary performance practice and institutions?’
We talked about possible events and ways of using the space within the building – to which we get so many hours access a month as part of our rental with evenings devoted to looking at the venues, playwrights, media, audiences, devising processes, economics (role of the dole) of the movement, as well as the companies that the volunteers are working on, at the people who were part of it — including the ‘maniacs’ and the ‘people who were really scary’ – names were mentioned which I had better not repeat here! We talked about how to get more people to attend and about the possibility of doing more public events in the Gallery cafe downstairs. And we persuaded Neil Hornick to allow us to focus on play by his company The Phantom Captain next time: What to Do On a Date. See you on 18th June, I hope…

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