The Playgoer: Hytner: 'Schools to blame for a generation unable to understand the arts'

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hytner: 'Schools to blame for a generation unable to understand the arts'

"The end is not the audience. The audience is there to support the most searching, adventurous work possible. It is not my job to find someone who would be bored stiff by theatre if he or she came and somehow dragoon them into the stalls. There is no bloody point in that."

-Nicholas Hytner, an AD who sure knows how to get headlines.

Though you can't tell from this, his subject was actually how education has failed the arts.

Yes, even in England!

Says he:

"Every theatre in the country is really busting a gut with departments filled with fantastically idealistic and committed people trying to undo the damage which has been done by decades of neglect in schools....A generation have been deprived of the tools they should have been given to open a door [to the arts] that can otherwise seem quite daunting....The problem we now face, those of us who run theatres, galleries, dance companies and orchestras, is that we want to open the door as quickly as possible...But it gets to a point where you have to draw the line and say we can't go any further. Are we going to make over Mozart by making it sound as if it has a dance beat? No we are not! Are we going to translate Shakespeare more than we do already. No we are not!...We have to insist that for the arts to be as revelatory and transformative as they can be, they often have to be quite demanding."
Irascible chap, eh? I'll say this, though: he doesn't sound like someone worried every day about a Board he has to please.

1 comment:

thenewyorker said...

British theatre gets a lot of money from the government labelled with variations of "audience development". Maybe they need to start handing that money to schools instead.