I teach in the Department of Drama, Theatre and Dance at Royal Holloway University of London and we have a real concentration of staff who teach, research and practice in the area of Contemporary British Theatre. We've decided to foreground and strengthen this activity more by establishing a Research Centre in Contemporary British Theatre and we had our launch event yesterday. The centrepiece of that was an interview by me with the amazing Vicky Featherstone, artistic director of the Royal Court, founding director of the National Theatre of Scotland, who also ran Paines Plough at a really pivotal moment in their history.
It was a great interview. Vicky is wonderful clear, straightforward, articulate and forthright and it was great to range across her extraordinary career (from directing the premiere of Sarah Kane's Crave in 1998 to spearheading the theatre industry's response to sexual harassment in theatre just a couple of weeks ago). A Research Centre focusing on British theatre is a striking thing right now given that the word 'British' is so contested, so fraught, so complicated, in the decade which has already brought us the Scottish Referendum, Brexit, cultural anxieties about migration and British values, the current problem of the land border with Ireland, and, just yesterday, the announcement of a Royal Wedding, with all the nationalistic self-regard that brings. Vicky has run several national companies and being able to talk to her about her various engagements with the national (and international) made for a great start to the Research Centre's life.