A severe lack of resources, exploitation and systemic class disparity: these are the grim realities of Sydney’s theatre scene. And it’s not only theatre – these are issues that plague all of Sydney’s creative industries.
Theatre has historically been an activity for those who could afford it – the Belvoir is challenging this preconception with their program 25A.
Now in its second year, 25A allows a diverse range of emerging and independent artists access to resources, rehearsal rooms and Belvoir’s downstairs theatre for free.
As Sydney-based sound designer, playwright and singer Clare Hennessy told me, 25A is a crucial step in combatting Sydney theatre’s tendency to navel-gaze.
Clare worked as sound designer of Louris van de Geer’s play Tuesday, which was performed in Belvoir’s downstairs theatre as part of 25A in February.
“For theatre to work on a social level it needs to be speaking to the realities of what it’s like to live in Sydney for everyone. If it’s only a certain portion of people getting access, theatre can’t function in the way that it needs to,” said Clare.
In a city as competitive and expensive as Sydney, programs that encourage low-cost theatre are few and far between.
“There’s insufficient funding from the top down. If you’re trying to enter as an independent, it’s very hard to be sustainable,” said Clare.
By allowing new and diverse voices access and exposure, 25A is a vital mechanism through which Sydney’s theatrical eco-system can thrive.
“It’s about keeping that healthy lifeblood flowing through the entire community,” said Clare.
Coming up on Belvoir’s Downstairs stage is ‘Jess and Joe Forever’ (Zoe Cooper), running from March 13-30, and ‘Extinction of the Learned Response’ (Emme Hoy), running from May 7-25. Visit belvoir.com.au or like @twentyfive_a on Instagram for more details.