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Royal Court: A New Direction?

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#1 Guest_Alan_*

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Posted 27 February 2007 - 07:57 PM

What does everyone make of the comments made by Dominic Cooke about the future of the Royal Court? They seem to have been jumped on with particular excitement by The Telegraph:


#2 Jan Brock

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 08:35 AM

Cooke is quite a good director (recent Pericles for example). The spin put on his comments in this article is different to that reported by other newspapers who said that he wanted to challenge his middle-class audience more. With the latter spin the comments pander to the slight air of self-loathing of the educated white upper-middle-class audiences who attend the Royal Court (and Cooke is himself a member of the same class) so they might be viewed as quite shrewd in terms of saying what his supporters want to hear - "we will challenge your liberal credentials".

More important, in my view, is his comment that the Royal Court will once again (as it always used to) occasionally stage classic revivals - a good way of building a more diverse audience (in terms of political view at least) in my view.

#3 El Peter

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Posted 01 March 2007 - 12:39 AM

I have read interviews with Dominic Cooke in two other newspapers in the last 2-3 months and have not known what to make of his comments about what he would like to see, or intends, for the Royal Court. I mean I have neither been stirred into keen anticipation of any forthcoming programme by his comments, nor upset by them. I have nothing against the fellow, and hope that the Court succeeds whatever he does.

I have never read Ionesco's 'Rhinoceros', so if any production of it comes along that gets decent reviews, then I'll be happy to give it a go.

It so happened a few months ago that in a second hand-book shop I came across a copy of Max Frisch's 'The Fire Raisers' and because it seemed a timely read and because I had rarely if ever come across second hand copies, I bought it at a very low price. Good to see that Cooke at the Royal Court has this play scheduled for production: a revival, one that may throw a cat among the pigeons, and which will get people thinking and talking.  

I like plays about working class life, worries and aspirations, which provides for a wide range of issues and treatments, but have never been attracted to stagings of 'lumpenproletarian' carrying-on passed off as 'so working class' when such life is more complex and interesting than that. So I'm not bothered if there happen to be fewer of the 'lumpen' presentations for quite a while, though the truth of despair need not be avoided.

I'm not so sure that the Royal Court has an essentially 'upper middle class audience'. Wealthiest borough or not, Kensington and Chelsea has no shortage of poverty, deprivation and unemployment including in its part-time employed and self-employed guises. The well-heeled are there in the audience, as are the blue-collar and white-collar working class attracted by interesting plays and affordable prices that acknowledge audience characteristics, right down to value-for-money play texts as programmes. If the Royal Court led by Cooke can 'hold up a mirror to society' and entertain us, then I welcome it and wish him the best.

#4 Alan



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Posted 01 March 2007 - 05:20 PM

To be fair though Rainbow Kiss which he uses an example of a certain type of working class play wasn't, in my opinion anyway,  'lumpenproletarian'. And actually, when you look at last year's plays at the Court, I can't think of any that fit into that sort of 90s style: O Go My Man, Piano/Forte, Woman and Scarecrow, Rock n Roll Dying City and so on, were hardly plays which a sudden switch to middle class focused dramas from would seem like a massive contrast to.

#5 Lynette


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Posted 02 March 2007 - 12:29 AM

I love the way you put it Alan; I only saw Piano/Forte and let's face it , this was rather posh and an update of the old fashioned family secrets melodrama. Sadly for Mr Cooke, I don't think you can attract an audience by saying, 'Hey, guys, this one is about you' . We don't go to see King Lear because we are disinheriting our daughters do we? Maybe some do, but you see what I mean. Isn't The Crucible a marvellous example of how a brilliant play speaks to everyone and can with care reflect the contemporary without shoving it in your face. So choose good plays, Mr Cooke and then people [ those who can afford to ] will come.

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