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Daniel Johnson: Is the theatre, which is both your lives from completely different points of view, still an absolutely central part of civilisation and if so why?

Simon Gray: Has it ever been at the centre of civilisation?

DJ: Well, it’s an integral part of it. Why do we seem to need it? Every phase of history has produced some sort of theatrical legacy.

SG: The theatre is very much a social aspect of civilisation. I think it’s actually more to do with, or certainly it was, a middle-class social activity.

Charles Spencer: Yes, very much so. They used to have teas served at matinees. It’s always been a night out as much as anything.

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Peter Elmore
August 8th, 2008
2:08 PM
I agree with the sentiments expressed about Islam in the Theatre; a great big burkha-wearing elephant in the room. I have worked and lived in the Middle East where for the most part the concept of Theatre as we know it does not exist except for British Council productions of Drawing Room dramas, comedies and bog standard Shakespeare. The hand wringing Guardian readers would rather burn a "Joan of Art" at a stake fueled with Bibles than offend an Islamist. However I'm sure the "next big thing" from the subsidised theatre will be a biting satire on the persecution of homosexual bishops.

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