Friday, April 10, 2009

A Call To Action

Saturday, April 04, 2009

A mini-rant

It’s theatre competition season for Texas high schools. I’ve been timekeeper for a couple of local contests, which means I’ve seen thirteen plays in the last week.

I saw one good production (Man of La Mancha, which didn’t advance to the next level of competition), one bad production (Inherit the Wind, performed by rhesus monkeys on Paxil), and eleven productions that elicited no feelings from me whatsoever. These shows were not bad. They were well rehearsed and precisely performed. However, they were not good. At all.

I used to enjoy going to the theatre quite a bit, but now I don’t. I don’t see a lot of terrible theatre, but easily 90% of what I see is just pointless. Like, one of the productions I saw yesterday was Rabbit Hole, a play about a couple coming to terms with the death of their child. It wasn’t awful, but it was derivative of countless similar plays and movies, and I still don’t know why the playwright bothered to put pen to paper to tell this story.

I also saw Kindertransport. Once again, not a poorly accomplished production. But I really wanted to go up to the director after the show and say, “If you’re looking for something to do on a Friday, and you see that a theatre is doing this play, do you immediately call for tickets? Is this the kind of theatre you enjoy watching? If not, then why would you bother to make this kind of theatre?”

It’s not that I don’t like contemporary, heavy drama. I think The Laramie Project is an excellent piece of work because it feels new, and it takes advantage of what theatre can do as a medium of storytelling. Rabbit Hole felt like a Movie of the Week, and Kindertransport felt like a novel being read aloud. Shouldn’t theatre feel like theatre?

When did theatre get so dull? I still enjoy the process of making theatre, but the act of attending theatre has been boring me to tears. Is anyone else running into this problem?