‘Theatre is the training base for so many other sectors’

Want to write for TV? Of course you do, everybody does. But the jump from your bedroom to the BBC is huge – and there’s no guarantee that someone will hold out their hand on the other side.

While wrestling with Government in an attempt to expose the effects of budget cuts on the creative sector, playwright Fin Kennedy has highlighted the important link between theatre and other media sectors such as TV, film and radio.

Kennedy’s recently co-authored ‘In Battalions’ report looked at how Government cuts were affecting new British play-writing.

It’s negatively, by the way. Less funding means fewer risks, which means the chance of new writers getting their foot in the theatre door is even slimmer.

But cuts on the stage will have consequences across the board, says Kennedy: “We need to come up with ways to protect our ability to innovate, and nurture the next generation of talent. If we don’t, then it could seriously affect our output in years to come.

“As my report showed, theatre is the training base for so many other sectors, so this will end up affecting film, TV and radio too. We have to act before it is too late.”

The threat of pulled funding aside, there’s a lesson here for new writers in general. Want to write the next TV sitcom? Put your gags on stage first.

A live audience of not necessarily friendly faces will quickly tell you whether your material is any good.

And if the general feeling does seem to be that you’re not the worst comic writer in the world, that stage presence will only help you further down the road to becoming a small screen success.

Think about it: if your pitch includes a string of theatre dates, a couple of good reviews and a nice little Facebook following, a TV producer is going to find it just that bit harder to turn you away.

Better yet, why not invite them to see your show live so they can experience it rather than just hear about it?

Then there’s the issue of access. A small theatre production for a couple of hundred people comes with a far less frightening price tag than a TV pilot or experimental series. There’s not necessarily any need for special effects, fancy backdrops and expensive props. You can wow a crowd with three mates and a chair.

You already know that 80% of success is turning up. It’s about doing rather than just thinking and small time theatre allows for far more doing, as long as you’re determined and a little inventive.

At least it does at the moment. Keep up the fight Mr. Kennedy.

Via The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain.

Visit Fin Kennedy’s website to find out more.

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