One of the shows we’re doing this year was written in 1958 by an 18-year-old called Shelagh Delaney. Her play is set in a crumby Midlands tenement house, much like Delaney’s own. In this damp house, right there in the kitchen, and in the midst of their snotty lives (mother and daughter constantly have colds), is a jazz band. It’s a very upbeat kind of downbeat life she’s putting before us. Even in bleakness, Delaney’s saying, there’s an irrepressible zing of life. It’s such a marvellous view of things.
That’s what our season aims to be. The jazz band in the mess. The mess being the world. You could despair, really, at the state of affairs. These are mad, crazy times. So much shiny, high-end living on the one hand, so much hate and misery on the other. The world has become incomprehensible. Only dangerous morons claim to have The Answers. The only answer, really, is to struggle on and fight for the good things. Either way, in the midst of this mess everyone has a life that wants to be lived. That’s the spirit of Delaney’s play, and it’s the spirit of our season.
So here it is – a mix of comedy and tragedy, of the old and the new, and sometimes all at once. There are serious themes in there – about change, about what we want to leave behind and what we want to hold on to. But more than anything it is playfulness – the best human instinct of them all – jazz-like, upbeat, free-spirited – which is the tune we’re dancing to in 2018.