Mark Ravenhill: Making Theatre, Curiosity, Listening and Stories Under the Rainbow Flag


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Mark Ravenhill is one of our greatest living theatre makers. I claim this in part because of the length of his writing career, 25 years+ and still going strong, and in part because of the variety of form and type of work. His work has extended into directing and performing Mark will be co-artistic director (with Hannah Price) of the Kings Head theatre where he is outlining plans to portray stories that would fly under the rainbow flag (an allusion to multitude types of queer stories out there).

Podcast notes: Mark articulates why representation now for all kinds of stories that would fly under the rainbow flag is important and sketches out his vision as co-artistic director. We discuss the differences between German and British theatre cultures. The surprising lack of influence from visual art on British theatre (compared to eg German theatre or many other kinds of theatre).

The satisfaction of bringing a popular story, like David Walliams Boy in the Dress to a wider (out of London) audience. We chat about how representative (or not) theatre is touching on working class and outside of London audiences, if right wing playwrights are missing considering the British people keep returning right leaning governments; and how, of course, the landscape of public views and opinion is much more complicated than that.

The importance of listening in a world where many people are defending their right to speak (and many of those defenders having never been without that right to speak) - making space to listen to other voices.

Mark’s curiosity and love of life-long learning and what ballet has taught him. The differences and similarities in how he approached his recent biographical work about his mother, father and himself.

We play over-rated/under-rated and Mark rates:

  • -Automatic writing
  • -Speaking in verse all day
  • -Dressing up or outside in techniques
  • -Chekhov and non-English theatre
  • -Theatre Games

(Only one of these is overrated).

We discuss the importance of Keith Johnston’s book Improv (note my podcast with Lee Simpson also discuss Keith’s work) and how Mark has used the exercises in the book.

I ask Mark, what question theatre should be asking today.

Mark finishes with advice to creatives on not being swayed too much by others (well-intentioned or not) advice.

Transcript and video available here.

Follow Mark on Twitter @markravenhill2

Follow Ben on Twitter @benyeohben

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