The Stage: “most memorable theatre going moments”

Nicky Priest as Dominic and Sarah Gordy as Kelly in Jellyfish at The National Theatre. Photo by Helen Murray.

I was thrilled to see the editor of The Stage, Alistair Smith, write that one of his “most memorable theatre going moments in 2019 came while watching Jellyfish at the National Theatre.”

In his opinion piece,Editor’s view: Data metrics are blunt tools but they can be useful, he talks about how data can be useful but also how numbers can’t capture the experience.

His memorable moment was seeing the reaction of a teenage girl with Downs Syndrome to Jellyfish at the National Theatre. “From the moment Sarah Gordy came on stage, she was rapt – excited to see an actor with Down’s syndrome portraying a character to whom she could clearly relate. The play was, she told her parents, “the best thing ever”. At the curtain call, she whooped and cheered, before asking if she could come back to see more theatre.” I agree with him that “visible representation is important at all levels” and so is reporting on it. But reports can’t show what it means for an audience member to see themselves represented on stage or what it could mean for the future of theatre-going audiences.

Diversity on stage (and off) is so important. Being able to see all kinds of people perform is important because audiences are made up of all kinds of people. It also adds so much more to the story. There are great opportunities for writers and producers here. I gave a speech about this at Mencap’s Lord Rix Lecture in 2015. Jellyfish is a great example of complicated characters with real lives.

I hope there will be more productions like this. And I know there are many talented people working hard to make this happen. I hope that the young lady in the article will get to see more theatre and I hope that we can keep giving her reasons to see more.