Two young theatre makers dissect the industry’s “class problem” and tell Matt Trueman what the arts sector should be doing about it.
British theatre has a major class problem. In fact, it has three: participants, audiences, stories. Who’s making it? Who’s watching it? Who’s it about? Three questions, one answer: the middle-classes – mostly.
In February, the Warwick Commission found that the wealthiest, best educated and least ethnically diverse 8% of the population made up 28% of theatre audiences. Recent analysis of the Great British Class Survey discovered that only 10% of actors came from a working-class background – and those who did earned on average £10,000 a year less than their peers. Julie Walters, Christopher Eccleston and Timothy Spall have all raised concerns about the dwindling number of working-class actors – and part of that problem is surely the lack of working-class parts and stories on our stages.
Beats & Elements is a new company born out of frustration with this. Paul Cree and Conrad Murray got sick of not seeing people like themselves on stage – but worse was that on the rare occasions they did, it often felt deeply inauthentic. “Case in point,” says Murray: Home at the National Theatre. “There was a guy in it who was practically like, ‘Whas gawn’on. Yeah, man.’ But this guy was totally fake. It was so false and patronising. The nuances were all wrong.” The two of them decided to do something about it themselves... Keep reading on The Guardian