Care, Courtyard Theatre

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by guest critic Harry McDonald

Time passes and we pass with it, but how do you measure getting older? Do you read wrinkles or responsibilities? Or did you never learn to read?

The Courtyard’s revival of Roy Mitchell’s Care, last produced in 1983 at the Royal Court Upstairs and now presented by the Angus McKay Foundation, interrogates a fraught young couple living in Birmingham in the 1970s. Childlike in their domestic play – bouncing between football, music,  comic books and sex – each lover attempts to survive the other’s presence over a long Easter weekend. And yet there is a third person present. Don’t children always make the scariest ghosts?

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An Invitation to D&D 11

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If you are a dreamer, come in
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…
If you’re a pretender, come sit by the fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!

Improbable Theatre’s Devoted and Disgruntled (D&D) events bring to mind this poem, Invitation, by American poet Shel Silverstein. They’re open to absolutely anyone with an interest in theatre or the performing arts, whether you are devoted to and/or disgruntled by them or not. Are you a theatre maker? A teacher? An am dram enthusiast? A theatregoer? A student? It doesn’t matter whether you work in the performing arts or not, there is a place for you at D&D and you will be welcomed with open arms.

Though I’d known about D&Ds for a while and they’ve been happening for over a decade, I finally plucked up the courage to attend my first D&D last year. I felt uncertain and vulnerable, like a fraud sneaking in somewhere she’s not supposed to be. I was about to return to theatre after a career break working solely in education, but was worried that because I hadn’t been a practitioner for several years, I wouldn’t have anything to contribute or gain at the event.

I was about as wrong as I could possibly be. I left D&D 10 feeling confident, motivated and welcomed back into the industry. Despite being a person who can feel extremely uncomfortable in new situations and around people I don’t know, the open space format of D&Ds gives participants the freedom to participate as much or as little as they please. D&Ds are warm, inclusive, and empowering to the individual. It’s not a networking event. It’s not a conference. It’s a space to meet other passionate people to discuss issues in theatre and the performing arts. It’s a place to think and reflect. It’s a time to plan. Or, you can just be in the room and listen.

So, come along. D&D 11 is at Birmingham Rep next weekend and there are still tickets available. If you’re not sure about how it works, have a rummage through Improbable’s website dedicated to D&D. Ask questions in advance on twitter or facebook or email, and if you’re still feeling nervous on the day, look for the lovely people with heart badges who can give you the support you need.

You see, there’s a lot to that needs doing in theatre and the performing arts, and the best way to cultivate change is to facilitate a bunch of passionate people coming together. There’s no predetermined agenda, but a question: What are we going to do about theatre & the performing arts?

It’s up to us to find the answers together.


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