I was planning on writing about Wilkie Collins or Calvinism – but I’m going to have to start with something less cheerful. The Ramshorn Theatre in Glasgow is owned and run by Strathclyde University and uniquely in Scotland (and the world) is home to a completely open, unpaid but professional-standard, community theatre group – STG (Strathclyde Theatre Group). It was one of those wonderfully wacky socialist arts enterprises that came out of the 60s and was nurtured since the early 80s by the wonderful (I wont say wacky – but she does have purple hair) Susan Triesman.
Despite some brilliant productions our artistic reputation has fluctuated. A mixture of flying under the radar, never really having enough resources and the open, unpaid nature of our group leading to a mix of experienced, trained actors and actors who are only beginning to learn their craft, has made us easy to ignore or put down. But that openness and freedom is the greatest and most beneficial thing about STG and the main reason why it needs and deserves a permanent theatrical home.
The Ramshorn can reach, inspire and nurture actors, directors and writers that other, more official organisations miss. It’s for those mercurial talents that rebel against rigid career paths, it’s for people from backgrounds that lack the money, connections or confidence to immediately see theatre as an option, it’s for resting actors who need to keep their enthusiasm and technique sharp, it’s for misfits seeking a path who can take the insights and skills they discover with them no matter where they go, it’s for community and belonging without any barriers of age, religion, nationality, education, class or sexuality.
In other words it gives time and space for growth and experience – it’s the right to fail and the right to play that our ruthlessly focused arts world is rapidly losing. It’s truly egalitarian and humanist, it brings new audiences into the theatre and it brings together people from diverse backgrounds working on projects that matter to them. Scottish theatre, Scottish society, and theatre in the whole of the British isles would be poorer without it.
And they’re shutting it.
In July 2011 it will cease to exist and STG will find it impossible to continue.
So here we are trying to save it.
We’re hoping that our supporters will write to their MPs or prospective MSPs (there’s an election coming up so a promise from the hustings would help morale) and their local councillors; will write to Strathclyde University (and remind them of their generous and vital contribution to cultural life, and plead with them not to throw it away for money), and will generally spread the word and create a climate that’s in our favour.
May 6th is the ultimate doomsday… wish us luck.
This is our petition and facebook page :