In Search of London's Independent Music Theatre Scenes
Thom Andrewes attempts to survey London's highly fragmented new music theatre landscape as it developed through the first two decades of the 21st century. The author argues that, while the term »music theatre« lacks a strong disciplinary orbit in the UK, equivalent trends have nevertheless emerged across a number of discrete disciplinary terrains in response to the same socio-economic factors of austerity and neoliberalism. Surveying each disciplinary context in turn, the chapter outlines the collapse of mid-scale opera production and the rise of flexibility, transparency and immediacy as creative and aesthetic principles. The author draws on interviews with artists and producers associated with three key music theatre »nodes« – Tête à Tête Festival, Battersea Arts Centre and London Contemporary Music Festival – whose production practices and curatorial projects have helped determine the emergence of trends such as gig theatre, composer-performer collectives and gallery opera. Stressing the comparative centrality of pop music and Live Art to the UK's music and theatre discourses, the survey concludes by highlighting the importance of a context-specific understanding of »music theatre«.