Features Published 27 July 2012

Theatre Uncut 2012

Theatre Uncut was initially established as a direct response to the cuts in UK public spending. It returns this year in a slightly different form with a more global remit, the new plays examining a range of international issues. The 2012 Theatre Uncut plays will be performed at the Traverse Theatre during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August ahead of a mass participation event in November.
Lisa Paul

Austerity cuts, the Greek bailout, Syrian civil war. Confusion may reign across the world, but one thing is clear: in an increasingly changeable global landscape, there’s growing dissatisfaction. Now Theatre Uncut, the mass theatre participation event which began its campaign last year in response to austerity cuts in the UK, is back with a much more international focus to reflect these uncertain times.

Having previewed at the Latitude Festival earlier this month, the new Theatre Uncut line-up for 2012 will be presented at the Traverse at the Edinburgh Fringe ahead of a mass participation event this November. 

“Theatre Uncut was always designed to be really honesty responsive”, explains Emma Callander, the project’s co- artistic director and curator. “It has to reinvent itself every year because it has to respond to the current political issue”. With this in mind, the plays commissioned this year redraw the parameters of society – using drama as a way of encouraging people to imagine an alternative way of living. “We really felt that this year the global political and economic situation is ever-changing. Nobody knows what’s going on – and our plays won’t answer that, but they reflect that we’re all feeling lost at sea”, Callander tells me. “And so the clear provocation for the writers was to respond to the financial and political situation of their own country with the future in mind.”

This year, ‘Uncut’ has become ‘uncensored’, and the plays submitted so far tackle worldwide issues including the Eurozone crisis, the Occupy movement, and the state of global capitalism. It’s a refusal to be silent, a global call for solidarity. To this end, 15 global playwrights have penned a series of short plays that ask the audience to rethink the world they live in.

Anders Lustgarten’s play for Theatre Uncut, The Break Out at Latitude

One such writer is the political activist and award-winning playwright Anders Lustgarten who took part in Theatre Uncut last year with his intense monologue entitled The Fat Man, delivered by Lustgarten himself. His piece for 2012 is completely different. Framed as a dialogue between two women in what seems like a prison cell, it’s a much more allegorical piece- an extended metaphor for the world we live in. For Lustgarten, these women are consumers in a comfortable capitalist society, and through them he attempts to open the audience’s mind to another way of life. “That’s really what the piece is – it’s not that we officially are locked up in prison, but we do live in a world that we find very difficult to imagine an alternative to”, muses Lustgarten.

“A chunk has fallen out of the prison wall because of austerity cuts”, he continues. “Whilst one of the women wants to go, the other finds reasons not to leave. So when one of them goes to see what’s on the other side of the wall and comes back with this description of something beautiful, we fade out on this other woman deciding if she should imagine or investigate what another world would look like”. It’s a symbolic piece but its sentiment is raw.


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Lisa Paul

Lisa graduated from Durham University last year and since then she has gained experience at magazines including Vogue and Conde Nast Traveller. She is Assistant Editor at Northstar, and regularly contributes to the Time Out blog.

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