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Theatre Uncut at the Young Vic

Alice Dickerson

If you didn't catch 'Theatre Uncut' at the Young Vic, then you're already too late. For this year at least.

Founded in reaction to the UK's Coalition Government's public spending cuts, Theatre Uncut aims to get people 'thinking, talking and taking action'. And it achieves this in spades.

In 2011, playwrights from across the UK produced new works, which were then disseminated across the globe, enabling the plays to be performed for free, by anyone, anywhere. Theatre Uncut returned in 2012, bigger and bolder. Instead of focusing solely on the UK, the collective decided to widen the scope of the project, inviting playwrights from across the globe to submit new work.

This ambitious approach appears to have paid off. Over 100 performances were staged in 17 countries; countries as diverse as the Czech Republic, Mexico and Egypt. The Young Vic is one of Theatre Uncut's most high-profile supporters, to its immense credit. The venue was joined by many smaller performance spaces throughout UK and across the world (including libraries, schools and homes).

No play is rehearsed for more than two days. And no playwright receives any remuneration for their efforts. The cost of entry, if there is one at all, is kept low to ensure inclusivity. And any profits generated are donated to a charity chosen by Theatre Uncut (this year's chosen charity is Amnesty International). Yet the quality of the acting and writing is immensely impressive; and the raw passion and energy which evidently went into staging all of the productions cannot help but leave a distinct impression on the audience.

This year, six or seven short plays were performed every night at the Young Vic, over a period of five days. After each evening, the stage became a debating chamber, providing a platform for opinionated discussion; explicitly encouraging the audience to think, talk and take action. Plans for Theatre Uncut 2013 are, as yet, unannounced. One hopes that they return with even greater ambitions, and with an even greater desire to achieve change through theatre.

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