(Paul Taylor’s article appeared in the Independent, 4/13.)

The rise of democratic theatre

As a general election looms, the case for a more democratic theatre, in which ordinary citizens have their say, is stronger than ever. Paul Taylor reports

Last Tuesday, Gordon Brown triggered a general election that will be the most unpredictable in outcome since 1992. On 15 April, the theatre company Look Left Look Right will begin previews of a new verbatim piece, co-produced with the Roundhouse and entitled Counted, in the old debating chamber of County Hall in London. It is a fitting venue, because what comes under the microscope in this work is the erosion of our sense of duty to democracy in a culture where we are told that more people voted in the 2005 series of Big Brother than in the 2005 general election.

Of course, statistics tend to be dubious. But it could well be that one of the things that has sapped the will of many people to assert their will at the ballot box is the demoralising effect of all those self-serving and sometimes downright fraudulent chances to make your wishes heard, spuriously, that are provided by reality television. Sometimes these are no more than shallow, democracy-aping advertisements for a product (such as a new West End musical) that the conveners want to flog.

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