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New Musical Theatre development

Issue: New Musical Theatre Development

Convener(s): Laurie Sansom

Cathy Grindrod
David Price
Amanda – Red Earth
Paul – People’s Theatre Company

We discussed the definition of musical theatre, and how the art form can change and innovate to respond to contemporary theatre practice.
We discussed how this essentially collaborative from challenged artists to think and create and new ways and was inherently a theatrical form that allowed new ways of telling stories.
Wide spread assumptions as to what musicals were, created challenges with audience development. The commercial nature of most high profile musicals prevented it from being taken seriously as an art form and can deter drama audiences.
Musical Theatre can be very good at making difficult material both accessible and popular. We discussed how deaf performers and audiences responded to musical theatre particularly positively due to its frequent use of visual storytelling techniques and the relationship between its lyricism and economy with sign language.
We discussed the cost of developing new musicals often made it prohibitive and the need for greater collaboration between theatres and producers to enable it.
We discussed whether there were alternative models for developing musicals including devising, with composers/musicians present in the rehearsal room and developing the score simultaneously as the story and words.
We discussed how developing new works with youth theatres and community groups was an excellent ay of generating new material, and how it was a form particularly suited to participatory projects.
We discussed how the new Arts Council RFO Musical Theatre Matters will be coordinating a national approach to building an infrastructure for developing new work and how the East Midlands could be part of this.
We discussed how audience development for new musicals would need to go hand in hand with the development of more new work.

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:
At a key moment for the development of new musicals, the East Midlands has an opportunity to contribute to the innovation of the form and development of new audiences for this essentially collaborative art form.

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