Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"It is time the 'serious' theatre learns this lesson..."

Matthew Freeman has pointed out some amazing required reading for playwrights and theatre-makers at the Guardian Unlimited. Anthony Neilson writes about the biggest sin in theatre, which is boring the audience.

Mr. Neilson writes as his thesis:

"Boring an audience is the one true sin in theatre. We've been boring audiences for decades now, and they've responded by slowly withdrawing their patronage. I don't care that the recent production of The Seagull at the Royal Court was sold out. To 95% of the population, the theatre (musicals aside for now) is an irrelevance. Of that 95%, we have managed to lure in maybe 10% at some point in their lives, and we've so swiftly and thoroughly bored them that they've never returned."

However, this is what struck me more:

"I can't tell you how often I've asked an aspiring writer what they're working on, and they reply with something like: 'I'm writing a play about racism.' ... You can be fairly sure the play, should it ever be finished, will conclude that racism is a bad thing. The writer is not interested in exploring the traces of racism that may lie dormant within their [sic] psyche, nor in making the case for selective racism (just to be 'provocative'). This is the writer using the play to project their preferred image of themselves; the ego intruding on art; the kind of literary posing that is fed by the idea of debate-led theatre. And if you think that example sounds naive, substitute the word 'racism' with 'George Bush' or 'Iraq' or 'New Labour'. Sound familiar?"

Emphasis mine.

Check out the whole thing here.

Boring my readers,

James "Senile Grampa" Comtois

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