Friday, 25 November 2016

Bush Theatre "To Fight Right Wing" When It Re-Opens

The Bush Theatre - closed until 2017
Here at The Shepherd's Bush Blog we've long been big fans of the Bush Theatre on the Uxbridge road, currently undergoing a major renovation.

Lately though we've noticed a bit of a detour into some less entertaining and more obviously political programming. Think the potty-mouthed "F*ck the Polar Bears", "Islands", a sweary rant about tax avoiders, or "Boys Will Be Boys", a cliche-ridden polemic about sexism in the City.

And now, it's official. The Bush Theatre artistic director Madani Younis has vowed - not to put on great theatre entertainment - but to "fight the right wing" when the building re-opens.

Trouble is - Is this what audiences want? And should public money be spent on such an overtly political goal?

According to a piece in yesterday's Evening Standard, Younis says that "with the global political context shifting, and the emergence of pervasive Right-wing politics, it’s more important than ever that artists and theatres agitate as well as entertain".

And writers won't be selected purely on the basis of the quality of their writing.  Now, "half of all work [will] come from ethnic minority writers or people from a refugee background."

All of which would be fine if the Bush Theatre was a private institution which paid its own way. But it isn't. It is heavily subsidised with public funds, including money from the National Lottery, the Arts Council, and our local Council.  The refurbishment of the theatre alone has cost £4m, much of which is public money.  Taxpayers of all political stripes, right and left, are contributing their resources - whether they like it or not.

We think it's time that the Bush Theatre concentrated on making great theatre, and great entertainment. It surely isn't right to follow an explicitly political agenda which is potentially divisive - and inappropriate for an institution heavily dependent on public money.

The Shepherd's Bush Blog offers a personal view on life in Shepherd's Bush. If you would like to contribute a story, email us at And don't forget to add your opinion in the comments section below.


  1. Good. I'm pleased the Bush will be promoting all sorts of voices, and hopefully opening eyes to the world beyond our nice little borough.

  2. Theatre should be radical, free-thinking, polemical, not just pushing boundaries but creating new ones, while no forgetting that audiences need entertsining and the Bush Theatre over its lifetime has done just that. If you want safe, easy productions that may be feelgood but do not make you view things in a different way then head off to a 'musical' in the West End where you will be well-catered for. The Bush must be applauded for taking a stance against such pandering and offering a more nourishing diet.

  3. But what if the Theatre had vowed to "fight the left wing"? Wouldn't we find that unacceptable? Why is it OK to spend public money on fighting the right wing but not the left wing?

  4. It's also deeply hypocritical. The theatre actively connived with the last Right Wing Council against the Shepherds Bush Market tenants just next door.

  5. That sounds interesting Chris....did you do a blog post about that? It's news to me....