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Playwright James Graham: ‘I open plays in London because national press won’t cover regions’

James Graham. Photo: Richard Davenport James Graham. Photo: Richard Davenport
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Playwright James Graham has claimed he doesn’t premiere his plays in the regions because he fears the national media will not cover them.

His comments follow the news that critic and journalist Lyn Gardner’s Guardian theatre blogs are being cut to save money.

The writer of This House claimed that a decline in national arts journalism as well as a media focus on London theatre were having knock-on effects on young people pursuing careers in the arts, who feel they must move to the capital to be a success.

Graham, from Nottingham, said: “I have never done a play at Nottingham Playhouse because I’ve never submitted one, because I know that national media won’t come and cover it until I bring it to London. So I just open it in London instead.”

“Without the national arts media focus on regional venues, you’re never going to get into communities. Everyone’s constantly going to have to move and come down to London,” he added.

Most of Graham’s plays have premiered at London venues including the National Theatre, the Donmar Warehouse and the Bush Theatre. However, Monster Raving Loony and The Angry Brigade both began life at Theatre Royal Plymouth.

Graham went on to say that he had been inspired by working-class writers such as Jim Cartwright and John Godber, who made him believe a career as a writer was viable.

He was speaking at an evidence session for an inquiry into the challenges faced by working-class people trying to get into and sustain careers in the arts.

The inquiry, called Acting Up – Breaking the Class Ceiling in the Performing Arts, is being led by Labour MPs Gloria De Piero and Tracy Brabin, who is also an actor.

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