Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Survival of Theatre (and us!)

I just finished reading Daniel Brooks and Guillermo Verdecchia's play The Noam Chomsky Lectures.  I would recommend this play to anyone with an interest in political theatre, and especially to people who couldn't give a shit about it.  I wanted to share one of my favourite (and there are many) thought-provoking passages from it:

"Some of you may be thinking that what we have embarked on here [in The Noam Chomsky Lectures] is not theatre.  Well, that's too bad.  I would like to say this: if the theatre is to survive, it must become something other than an expensive alternative to television.  We are going to have to look at the world and the world of the theatre without ideological or artistic blinders.  And I'm not talking about the theatre of gentle psychological manipulation, or mature content, or three-dimensional characters.  I'm talking about rolling up our sleeves, diving into the muck, taking a good, hard look at who we are and what we do and goddamn the excuses." [my emphasis] 
- Daniel Brooks and Guillermo Verdecchia



  1. I like that quote and the sentiment a lot.. intrigued by the play in question now.

    Though I must say there's not much wrong with intense three dimensional characters duking it out with their feeeeelings etc.. when done right it's certainly nothing like tv.

    i've always felt that theatre is a very unique artform that can do much better than aping the popular media in a way that will always be inferior.

    1. I agree with you. I don't think there is anything wrong with three-dimensional characters and their feeeeelings (I am all about "the feels"). I think what the quote is really getting at is that theatre has a certain "call-to-action" quality that television cannot offer in the same way. Because an audience is sharing the space and air and everything with the characters on stage, they are witnessing (in the sense of the kind of passive by-stander way) the action on stage and by simply watching events, specifically violent or unjust events, they are becoming complicit in the act. It is so much more "real" than anything on television or film. It is, to use the quotes own term, three-dimensional.

      I think what Brooks and Verdecchia are really saying is that, as theatre artists, we cannot simply emulate television and the passive role it places an audience in. We should be inciting our audiences to do something and to finish what we started in the theatre outside of the theatre.

      Thank you for you comment!