19/01/2013 at 12:34 pm Leave a comment

Besides my goals, I have a lot of hopes for the coming year. But it’s a fool who pins their happiness on hope, as such I will merely put them out into the ether, beyond my control, so that others might read of them and share, perchance to dream.

*I hope people will respect the time and thought going into the work on our stages, and think more deeply about what they are watching. Art is not just a commodity with which to say “good” or “bad”, it’s a deeply personal expression of things which trouble or inspire an artist’s deepest secret thoughts. There may be issues with dramaturgy or theatrical execution, indeed one of the lead actors may have the emotional range of a Justin Bieber autobiography – but that’s hardly the point. Theatre especially can provoke all kinds of emotional, political, physical reactions in an audience. Engage with the work. Do not merely sit and passively absorb a piece – attack it with your mind, question it with your heart, embrace it with your soul.

Theatre is not a transaction in which some immutable artist truth is handed out to the audience who can afford to go. You pay for your seat – but the work is given gratis. Do with it what you will – but one hopes you will do something more than merely ‘enjoy’.

This goes double for critics mind you. Those who claim some level of expertise (and are lucky enough to be granted a readership) are obliged to use this particular skill to help others understand the significance of what they are seeing. That is of course assuming the work has any significance at all… telling us something is “good” is not enough, since we all like or dislike different things, and two-hundred people in the same room on the same night will have a similar number of opinions about the show. Tell us something of how and why the writer or director is taking us to these places. Add some context. Something. Anything but tell us whether you think it’s any good.
No. More. Book Reports. Please.

*I hope marketers can also take this on board. I hope they stop talking to us as though every show is as amazing as the last. I hope they actually try to gain an understanding of what a play is attempting to achieve and sell us our seats on the basis of what we can expect (as opposed to what they think we’d like).

Case in point Every Breath: a play which brought about bitter disappointment, even anger from audiences who thought they were going to see a “thriller”. The Belvoir marketing team sold this show as if it were a naturalistic play, in my book a gross misjudgement of their audience’s sophistication. Viewed as a naturalistic play (which nearly everyone did) it was terrible. But when I spoke to people (and wrote my response) about it; suggesting the various scenes were a set of self-centered fantasies, operating in the world of the imagination where standard narrative rules could be stretched and pulled, I could see their eyes light up as the possibilities of meaning began to fall into place. “ohhh that’s what it was about…”

Had there been sufficient preparation for the audience from Belvoir on behalf of the artist, had the play been marketed with a more sophisticated view of his work, I suspect many audience members might have gone in more open to a more experimental kind of play, thus suffering less disappointment at the result.

*I hope we can have a proper discussion around what is “new work”. But perhaps that is a topic for another day…

*I hope you all don’t take this shit too seriously. Then again I hope you do.


*I sincerely hope Diana Simmonds stops randomly bolding words in her reviews so one might imagine them being read in a voice other than Forest Whitaker. It’s incredibly distracting, and possibly even a ploy to make words seem more meaningful when there is not a whole lot being said in the review. Just a thought.


Entry filed under: Sydney THEATRE.


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VICTOR SANCZ vassanc [AT] gmail.com

since 2009

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