Introducing White Label - An Imaginary Q&A

'Catchy name, but what exactly are you'?

White Label are a collective of theatre makers.

'Great, but what do you do'?

White Label is both a resource sharing scheme and a group of artists who are committed to making theatre that matters.

We do many things because we are many and various people and White Label is committed to artists retaining their own freedom and identity. But most of the things we do are covered here:

*We help each other in whatever way we can to put on shows and stage work.

*We help each other reach the audience that wants to see these shows by cross-promoting each other's work. We make noise for each other. We are louder together.

*We share resources to help one another get things done.

*We strive to make White Label a mark of quality that audiences can rely on.

*We encourage new writing and the generation of new work among participants by offering each other dramaturgical and development support.

*We collaborate on projects.

*We organise events and engage with audiences in different ways. We try to connect to people who might not usually come to the theatre. We aim to make theatre going a more complete and fun experience.

*We strive to make sure that we matter and that participants don't get lost in the sea of competing individuals.

*We enjoy what we do. We try to remember that. We try to remember that matters.

But why?

In a time of scarce arts funding, the Irish theatre community faces huge challenges. With less money, fewer and fewer emerging artists are getting the opportunities to make ambitious work in a way that does justice to these ambitions. We believe that some of this deficit can be made up by pulling together to achieve some degree of synergy.

In a time when funding is moving away from companies, we mustn't forget that theatre is an art form created by groups of people. It is about shared experience. Funding individual artists should not mean that artists must remain alone when generating work. The answer lies in maintaining freedom while sharing ideas and resources.

We also believe some other things:

*We believe that like-minded artists can push each other do do better work.

*We believe that audiences need to see consistently good work that cares about them and what they think.

*We believe in ambition, setting the bar high and jumping for it, even if we fall.

*We believe that theatre should be present and matter today. Whether it be a classic text or a new play, it should have an immediacy and vibrancy that takes it off the page and onto the stage in dynamic and inventive ways.

*We believe in the power of storytelling in all its forms. We believe an idea is transformed through the vehicle of narrative. If you have something to say, don't just say it, tell it.

* We believe in pluralism. There are countless ways to make a play and countless ways of holding to these beliefs.

'There has to be some rules though, right'?

Only two simple rules:

1. If you are a participant member, White Label does not own you or any of your work. No other participant will try to influence your work unless help is requested. You or your company maintain complete artistic, financial and organisational freedom. You apply for funding and earn money as normal. Any funding you get directly is yours. The door out is always open.

2. Members create and initiate shows and events. Practitioners of all kinds are accepted - Everyone from directors to designers to dramaturgs. From producers to writers and actors - BUT they must have the intention of generating work at some point. A set-designer does not partake simply to design a set but they might wish to create a show with design at its heart.

'Isn't this a bit like a theatre company'?

No. Haven't you been reading? This is a fresh model for changed times. We hope it provides some of the benefits that being part of a company might offer a theatre maker, but this is an attempt to make individual entities greater than the sum of their parts.

So what's with the name?

Think of us as an independent record label who don't own any of the bands or artists; a label formed by the bands themselves. Record labels help bands release albums and reach audiences. White Label helps theatre makers put on shows.

There's a tradition in the music industry of 'white label releases'. These are records released with a plain white label to promote new artists or upcoming albums by existing artists. They conceal the artist's identity so that the listener leaves any preconceived notions or prejudices behind and focuses on the work. White Label is our brand. It's only as strong as the work we make.

Right then, who the hell are you?

White Label was started by Mairin O'Grady and Louise Melinn of Chalk Talk Theatre; Ronan Phelan and Hugh Travers of Underscore_Productions; Rosemary McKenna of Pillowtalk Theatre; John Morton of Devious Theatre; Freelance Producer Aisling Murray; Dramaturg, Critic and Theatre-maker Joanna Derkeczew; and Writer and Dramaturg, James Hickson.

Its membership will change and evolve over time.


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