An evil rant

9 Feb

What can appear in this space? This is Tim Etchell’s question (from rehearsal blog notes, The World In Pictures)This is THE question, I think, for post-dramatic theatre and also in a wider sense for theatre. If (and we are) doing something other than suspending disbelief and entering fictions in the theatre, then we are surely concerned with appearances. The regional theatre is certainly concerned with appearances— the facsimile of art, in fact, which is increasingly a sealed loop of representation. The truism that art (increasingly forced to justify itself through other guises such as Doing Good) reflects life has become a diminishing fishpond of mirror-ball hypnosis between an aging white upper-middle class audience, and a timid not-for-profit theatre that tries to cater to it by “reflecting” it.
Well really, anyone who has read Snow White knows the danger of falling in love with the mirror and the rage that comes when life moves on and picks a new candidate for its fictions. I was very struck by Caldo Santo’s comment in one of their programs (and they have lines around the block to see their shows, possibly because some vestige of honesty remains in them) which is that they want to see themselves reflected in their audiences. This neat reversal of the usual formula at first sounds narcissistic, but when you think about it— they are saying they want to make art THEY are passionate about and hope that it attracts others who connect with their passions. This is far less disingenous that theatres trying to second-guess audiences whom they assume are more stupid than they are.

There are certain experiences of the theatre that nobody writes about but everyone involved has had. One of these is knowing (or worse, being) a talented actor who is unhappily trying to find something great in a terrible play they’ve just been cast in in a “real” theatre because—finally– it pays the rent . But the art is so bad, so much worse than the downtown stuff they’ve been waitressing and adjunct-teaching to support. All that training, just to finally be paid to lie on stage.


One Response to “An evil rant”

  1. Rick Massimo February 9, 2007 at 9:51 pm #

    Art is not supposed to reflect life. Art is supposed to reflect those aspects of life that we hadn’t seen or thought of before.

    This is the difference between Robert Kincaid and Marcel Duchamp; between the do-gooder regional theatre and Fluxus; between Toby Keith and, I dunno, The Minutemen.

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