The two main speakers were Dominick Cooke, Artistic Director of the Royal Court, and director Katie Mitchell.
Dickson reports that the discussion really seemed to consist of Cooke and Mitchell outlining their different ideas about how to approach creating theatre.
So far, so … sigh. What I couldn't quite believe was that both had so little to say about audiences, ostensibly the point of the whole debate. For Mitchell, the folk on the other side of the footlights seemed, while not irrelevant, somehow too complicated to think about. "I'm not sure you can talk about the audience," she said, wary about the idea of confronting all those human responses, infinite in their variation and complexity. "They're much more sophisticated than me." Cooke was even blunter: "Work that's led by an audience is show business," he said. His theatre's job is to choose what to put on, then market it so the right kind of people turn up (sometimes, he admitted, the Royal Court has targeted its advertising in specific communities because they seem relevant to the themes of a play).
While you can see what they're saying, it's difficult not to see both opinions as a kind of evasion – and, in their different ways, cringingly paternalistic.