by guest critic Joanna Trainor
Mark Thomas knows his audience. He starts the show with a dig at Quentin Lett’s racist review before calling audiences at the Royal Court “a bunch of Tory fuckers,” and the room’s already onside. It’s obvious that almost everyone at the Theatre Royal Stratford East has seen Thomas gig before. The whooping coming from the elderly gentleman sat next to me when he came on stage was particularly lovely.
An increase in conversations on diversity indicates that people are starting to come round to the importance of more than a token few woman and people of colour on our stages. White male dominance in theatre is increasingly being called out, with some small and mid-sized venues and companies leading the way on diversifying their work. But physical disability draws less attention in the diversity debate, and learning disability even less so.
After 52% of 72% of the British voting population voted to leave the EU, Rufus Norris’s concern that London theatre was out of touch with the majority of British people drove him to launch a nationwide project of listening. He sent a team of ‘gatherers’ to all corners of these sceptered isles, and they collected 70 interviews from people up and down the country. The transcriptions combined with text by Carol Ann Duffy gave birth to My Country; a work in progress.