I am livid. Once again I’ve been forced to witness ‘presumed’ theatre: now is the time for directness — the naked concept unswathed in cumbersome allusion or metaphor.
A chorus of aspiring somethings have let themselves be recruited by their earnestness. The brains behind the project appreciated them; couldn’t they become unadorned stand-ins for humanity? Their very lack of stagecraft would itself signify sincerity.
I have endured such before. Many times. Called in as an understanding Uncle, I am meant to delight in the purity of action as sketchy symbols are leant against one another in an at best tentative structure. My task is to approve of this deft reconstruction of the elements of performance. I am not to get bored…
My problem is that, in my antiquated mind, the theatre remains a sacred space. Things could happen, plots could unfold, transitions might move you. Indeed, stage persons may even challenge the outer limits of their skills. As my true love, living theatre is rooted in mad invention. We are sharing the pilgrimage of rehearsal, the fruits of collective voyage. Is it my burden to be weaned in an age where organic improvised explorations were always considered good taste, where the pivotal moments of a production’s growth are not your own, but the palpable breakthroughs of your fellow players?
But to have breakthroughs, barriers have to be approached at some velocity. The play is to be played. Polite indications that in that direction lie many a profound association, don’t really carry much weight.
Still, I’m not demanding the exoskeleton of the well-wrought vehicle for the stellar actor propped up by his props in the ninth month of a West End run soon to be a major studio film adaptation. Such a well-lit Saturday matinée can also easily slip within the range of boredom. I seek something more primordial. My naked shaman is by definition a minimalist; in my world the only essential scenic element required to render an event – theatre – is an audience, a movable audience.
The unfortunate dilemma with last night’s offering was that I constructed it entirely myself. The flimsy premise, gnawing tedium, my crankiness and familiar disappointment were all supplied by my own dreamtime. So walking wounded have I become that my subconscious presages that this evening’s realtime, perhaps under-wrought covida-adapted, unveiling at the dance festival might just fail to remove my socks?* Having seen it all before, have I become the veteran bee-keeper whose immune system won’t allow him to go anywhere near a living hive for fear of that one more sting that will trigger his last anaphylactic spasm?
*In fact, that evening’s event proved crystalline unpretentious and honest.
Clearly ‘Uncle-land’, but what we saw was what we got; both were something.