The Deal – introduction

Talking about The Deal

This was the initial proposal for a public discussion from Jonathan Chadwick (Az Theatre) that brought together a group of theatre practitioners and economists to talk about how theatre could relate to economic thinking.  This meeting attended by environmental economist Paul Ekins, writer Jeremy Seabrook, theatre director Lisa Goldman and many others initiated the subsequent process of research undertaken by Jonathan Chadwick:

“I propose an evening of discussion about theatre and economics on Monday 1st December 2008. Location to be announced.

I think it would be a good idea to reflect in public about the impact of the recession on theatre. 

This would not be to do with the dangers to public support for the arts. 

It would be aimed at engagement in a conversation between theatre practitioners and economists. It would be to do with assessing how theatre might reflect the devastation, insecurity and instability in peoples lives all over the world caused by the recent failures in the ‘free market’ economic system. Moreover it would address how theatre might be a catalyst or agent for change. I am interested to hear how these events, and the new recognitions and consciousness that flow from them, might change theatre practice.

I am going to wait to see who might be interested. I don’t want to set too tight an agenda. I propose that if people are interested that they get back to Az Theatre ( and I will post suggestions about what might be discussed on our web site – – so the agenda and key questions can be as far as possible collectively developed. I think that the evening should be informal with as much participation as possible. I am going to contact economists.

Why is Az Theatre taking this initiative?

The opportunities to discuss in public how we view these events have been very few. Generally, conversations have been restricted to friends, families and workmates – or watching other people talk on TV. It must be of general benefit to open up conversation and discussion as a part of a collective response to events which after all will have had and continue to have a collective impact.

In 2001 practitioners who were later to form Az Theatre came together to produce TRANSPLANT. This epic musical about globalisation written by Jeremy Seabrook and Michael O’Neill was produced with an international community company in North Islington. At the same time I undertook a postgraduate diploma in economics at Birkbeck College. This laid the basis for, and planted the seed of, a project called The Deal.

The Deal has remained a developing project. Its key aim is to create the cultural and creative context to produce work that addresses: 

The story of how neo-liberal or free market economic thinking has dominated political and social discourse from its beginnings in the early 70s and how our vision of humanity has been radically altered by its influence.

– How this latest thrust in the industrial revolution is a part of a radical change in the development of the human species’ relationship to the planet

– How forms of theatre can be developed to express these changes.

Az makes no claim to originality in this. There are many theatre practitioners all over the world who have worked at these issues. Neither does Az want to capture the agenda of the public discussion. However because we have this nascent project and since our view of it has been stirred up and disturbed by recent events it feels good open a discussion amongst our fellow practitioners.”

Since the meeting in December 2008, the opening discussion of this project with theatre practitioners and economists, Talking about The Deal, Jonathan Chadwick has pursued the research for The Deal by taking an A level in Mathematics, courses in economics and environmental science at the Open University, going on to the University of Leeds School of Earth and Environment to take a Masters of Science in Ecological Economics in 2011.

This research led to work on mappa mundi. Read more mappa mundi our project that addresses social and personal change.

Read more about the thinking behind The Deal