Last night Molly Mullen, head of education at Richmond Theatre and a visiting lecturer here at St.Mary's and I, went over to The Churchill in Bromley to see Metamorphosis '08 a new writing initiative pioneered by our friends at the theatre, Liam and Julia.
Julia, with brilliant support from Liam, has been at the forefront of championing educational programming within the commercial sector. It's pioneering work particularly as even (or perhaps specifically) within the subsidised theatre several managements still feel that education exists to tick funding boxes rather than because it's an important function of a vibrant building.
In recent years Julia's been passionate about developing and supporting new writing. Year on year she's been raising the bar in persuading ATG to use it's professional resources in serious support of this work.
Of the two pieces last night Overspill by Ali Taylor was the real deal. Set in Bromley the play was a poetic homage to the town in the Under Milk Wood tradition; a piece of fast paced, shared, and occasionally disputed, storytelling by three lads out on a Friday night. It felt like exactly the kind of work a regional playhouse should be doing and, although many in the audience were culturally a million miles away from the characters on stage, for an hour or so the pseudo-West End profile of the theatre melted away and it became a community venue watching itself with interest, curiosity and no little pride.