• michaelabennison

A New Calculation

Updated: Jul 20, 2020

Calculate vb: to work out the value of something

We all have something, an experience from our formative years, that we never forget. That stays with us well into adulthood. It may be our first football match, our first live concert, our first roller-coaster ride...

For me it was "A Disappearing Number" by Complicité Theatre Company at The National Theatre.

Thirteen years later, in between waking up from an afternoon nap (I'm I huge advocate for naps, especially during global pandemics) and sitting down to write this blog post, I was reminded of this show yet again whilst watching maths videos on YouTube. I haven't ventured into Maths YouTube in a while, and after my recent foray into the current Beauty YouTube drama (don't ask) it was a real pallet cleanser. But I can't watch British maths enthusiasts talking about Ramanujan without thinking about "A Disappearing Number".

I know there are many people who think theatre is not for them. I've made a video on my YouTube Channel about why people may think this about Musical Theatre. But theatre as a whole struggles to engage new and diverse audiences. I believe there are many reasons for this: a chronic lack of funding, rising ticket prices due to Celebrity casting and spectacle, a decreasing arts presence in schools - I doubt I would have considered a career in the arts without the exposure to music and theatre I had in secondary school. While there are many companies and creators who strive to remedy this in their work, the perception of the arts as "for someone else" permeates many social demographics in our society.

Thinking about "A Disappearing Number", how it has stayed with me through the years, how it made me see the world differently, I wish more people could have the same experience.

When this is over - whenever this is over - we need to do more to open up our theatrical world. To make spaces that are welcoming. To make work that speaks to more than the privileged few. To connect with communities. We need to give more people the chance to have experiences that will stay with them.

That's the kind of industry I want to be a part of. And it's the kind of theatre that I believe will make us not only stronger, but more valuable.

Right, back to Maths YouTube.

P.S. The Wix spellchecker doesn't understand that in the UK we say "maths" not "math" and it annoyed me. I just had to get that out of my system; the joys of having your own blog.

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