Tag Archives: Lyn Gardner

go on, take a risk once in a while

take risks, unlike these folk

After reading one of Lyn Gardner’s recent blogs, I was pleased to see how she got incredibly enthused and impassioned by what theatre should be doing and whole heartedly I couldn’t agree more. I am most drawn to her point about risk – “When I’m in the theatre, I want to feel as if some kind of risk is taking place” she says. This takes me back to my days at university when I often discovered the value of this tool and device when creating theatre across a number of forms.

Whenever I went to see a piece I was often asking myself, ‘what did they risk there?’ If it was nothing, then I found that it was pretty pointless – Gardner finishes her blog with a Tim Etchells quote: “I ask of each performance: will I carry this event with me tomorrow? Will it haunt me? Will it change you, will it change me, will it change things? If not, it was a waste of time.” How true.

Speaking more specifically about some of the in-house productions at St. Mary’s University College, some of which I was involved in; these are the ones that still stick in my memory. In the second year, a dance piece called Belonging, a 12-month project culminating in a movement/performance art piece entitled The Healing Room and also my final piece Inside Cover. I can remember how they pushed limits and boundaries both technically and in content and how this thrilled me, moved me and stayed with me.

Sadly, what many practitioners often don’t come to realise is that theatre is the place to take a risk. It’s where the opportunity is created and where the potential and real world can be ‘played’ with finding limits and boundaries. So I find myself asking, why aren’t more theatre makers doing this? Directly, I feel it is somewhat because of the ‘why’, as in they aren’t discovering why to take a risk and I’m not saying take a risk for risk sake. Perhaps taking a leaf out of Atonin Artaud’s book, quite literally, in the Theatre and its Double and injecting some ‘Theatre of Cruelty’ – and why so? Well, summed up brilliantly here –

The Theatre of Cruelty has been created in order to restore to the theatre a passionate and convulsive conception of life, and it is in this sense of violent rigour and extreme condensation of scenic elements that the cruelty on which it is based must be understood. This cruelty, which will be bloody when necessary but not systematically so, can thus be identified with a kind of severe moral purity which is not afraid to pay life the price it must be paid.

– Antonin Artaud, The Theatre of Cruelty, in The Theory of the Modern Stage (ed. Eric Bentley), Penguin, 1968, p.66

What I love about theatre especially, is that you can use it to play in the face of adversity. I believe that only in theatre, you can toy with an idea so much, to tempt it and push it to see just how far it goes. So, as we face such adverse weather, it doesn’t put a stop to the performance, yet we must, as always, take a risk and push against it.

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it’s all for the kids!

      Ah! Kids!

Each time the inevitable school holidays approach, if I’m brutally honest, a shudder runs from the tip to the base my spine. No longer can I visit a shopping town centre or go for a leisurely swim without insurmountable disruption to my supposedly sordid routine.

Avoiding the everyday bumper scrape of the school time rush was hard enough, but during the break, it’s as if the school run hell took place all day. Town centre car parks become the epitome of a jam packed metropolis, British weather keeps up its crown for worlds most unpredictable weather as it disrupts many a trip to the local park for a wee picnic and chlorine companies empty their supplies as leisure centres try to compensate for the funny yellow colour of their swimming pools. The whole holiday escapade culminates with Mother’s running out of ideas where to take their “little cherubs” – of course by this time they are Satan’s aspiring generation – and PS2’s and Nintendo DS’s become the sole reason for the drain in the country’s national grid.

Taking all this into account, I decided that there had to be a solution to the lack of recreational activities for mothers to take their kids. I thought it would be a good idea to look no further than the Time Out website and see if my theatre counterparts could come to the rescue. I took a glance through Time Out’s section ‘School holiday activities for kids’, to see if I’d be able to find new possibilities of entertaining the tots, tweens and teens. I was somewhat ashamed to find less than a handful of a decent selection of theatre shows for children.

 A fair part of the shows selected were West End with ticket prices starting at around £20 – not at all ideal if you have a few young-ans. The other shows looked fairly decent, although the general selection was far too small. Mothers, for what it’s worth – you have my full understanding.

Lyn Gardner, of the Guardian, pointed out in her blog recently that theatre start times are too late and because of this, theatre buildings aren’t being used to their full advantage:-

Many theatre buildings are woefully underused throughout most of the day and late night, and are like ghosts that only come alive for a few hours in the evenings.

Surely the school holidays are a perfect reason for companies to use theatres in the daytime to entertain the children masses and keep them from being so bored at home. Not only can they entertain, but get our future generation through the theatre doors so we can brain wash them into the magical world of the performance. All jokes aside, it is a shame to see theatre buildings go to very little use in the daytime as well as a lack of children’s entertainment shows. If we have any hope of making theatre in the UK grow far and wide, this is certainly a situation we need to find solutions for. It is pretty simple.

Let’s tear these kids away from the television screens that we, ourselves, were far too subjected to and show them a way that is far more educational, more real and without doubt, a far better way of spending that little precious time.

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