Every year frenzied hordes of prospective theatre students descend upon London, drawn to it like moths to a flickering neon sign. From Lamda to Goldsmith's , they traverse the city geographically and philosophically, filling up the infinite number of theatre courses that it has to offer. And when they finally graduate, these theatremakers rush out to fill every poorly lit, leaky-roofed studio space and every young writer's programme and pub theatre in a city overflowing with them. In this environment, surrounded by national critics and national institutions, it can feel like this is the only place to be.
But London is a bubble - an island of expensive flats, expensive transport and very expensive theatre spaces. For a lot of young artists and theatremakers, myself included, even living in London is a painful experience. And if you're beginning to put together small-scale work off your own bat (especially work that might be considered unconventional - work that's still finding itself, let alone its audience) then setting up shop on the gold-paved streets of this most commercial of cities can be nigh on an impossible.
Fortunately in this country we have a burgeoning network of institutions outside of London that support and promote young artists; places that foster a spirit of adventure and inventiveness.
And Lyn Gardner, also in the Guardian, writes why "The Future of British Theatre Lies in Bristol":
Decentralization and cooperation. What a concept!
I left Bristol feeling cheered, not least because it felt good to be sitting around a table where so many interest groups were represented, from street arts and circus to panto producers, and live artists to children's companies. Everyone seemed to recognise that it is shared interest, not self-interest, that will really allow Bristol theatre to thrive. It was a welcome contrast to the last few months, when opposition to the Arts Council cuts has united the theatre community in some ways, but in others seems to have opened fissures.