This month sees the opening of a new play at the National Theatre set “in a run-down community hall on the edge of town”. Faith Hope and Charity promises to present its audience with the lives of fellow-citizens who have none of the advantages they themselves properly take for granted.
In a rich society, theatre and the other arts can be effective in reminding people about those less fortunate than themselves.
As long as the art is genuine and not politics in costume.
The single thing we look for in socially relevant drama is truth.
Not just authentic context and credible characters, but truthful relationships. It can’t be done if the artist’s main aim is to influence or persuade.
But we know when we see it. Before ‘Love’, the last time we saw it was Ken Loach’s moving film I, Daniel Blake.
At Citizens Advice, we help people find a way out of their problems and campaign to improve social policy. The arts can play a part in highlighting issues and changing attitudes. They do this for patrons directly but also for many more people involved in the debates they generate in mainstream and social media.
Faith Hope and Charity, Royal National Theatre, until 12 October. Review here soon.