Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A god-damn Ethos.

For a theatre festival application, meself and The Cheeky Chappie were asked to explain the theatre companies 'ethos':

This is what I came up with :


”Nihilists? Fuck me! – Well say what you like about the tenets of national socialism, at least it’s a goddamn ethos!”

‘Walter’, The Big Lebowski, Coen bros 1997.

We’re not Nihilists, we have an ethos, we just haven’t had to say what it is before now. The simplest way of expressing what we’re at, is by saying; ‘We want to stage the sort of plays that we would like to go and see’. Of course, such a glib answer begs the question; ‘What sort of plays do you want to see then?’ To answer that truthfully, we’d have to address some of the weaknesses that we have observed in many (but by no means all)of the theatrical productions we’ve seen staged in Limerick and elsewhere: in other words, to tell you the way that we don’t want to go.

Because they are free- the plays of Synge, and his predecessors, make economic sense to many a burgeoning company. Not only do they save on the copyright, but they get to place the name of a respected and established writer on their poster and also they can relax in the knowledge that the engineering of the play has been tried and trusted and can be relied upon to work.
We feel that these plays, while they will always retain some of their universality, do inevitably date. They become less of a theatrical experience, but instead, an historical re-enactment of what the theatrical experience used to be. Put simply, they take us to where we come from, and that’s valid, but they don’t say anything about where we are, which is what we want to do. We want to do new stuff.

Conversely, in the competitive environment of emerging theatre groups, each strives to establish it’s own identity and style, and in doing so, may run the risk of being innovative to the point of incomprehensibility. Some artists feel it is their duty to challenge their audience’s expectations and provide something which might be described as ‘food for thought’ with entertainment as a lesser, perhaps even non-existent consideration; and fair play to them, but that’s not what we want to do either. We want to do stuff that people ‘get’.

When we say that we want to do ‘new stuff’ that people ‘get’, it might be presumed we are aiming for a form of realism. Realism usually means the recreation of contemporary dialogue and environment on the stage. Realism usually means telling the story of ‘now’ through recognisable characters and situations, and telling those stories in an accessible way by presenting scenes and situations as they might happen in ‘Real Life’. This is a valid approach also, but it’s not ours. We believe that contemporary theatre should be contemporary, not only in terms of the characters and their stories, costume, environment etc. –but that they should also be contemporary in terms of staging. We believe that the manner of their staging and execution should reflect the developments of the past 100 years in both theatre and performance.

In terms of audience members, if we are to imagine an audience comprised of a jaded theatre buff, who has seen it all and whose craving for something new, and some actor’s brother-in-law who thinks theatre is ‘a bit up itself’ and would rather be at home watching television; we want to entertain them both, and give them both something to think about. We believe good theatre can do that. That’s the sort of play we want to stage and that’s the sort of play we want to see.

They didn't want us in their theatre festival.

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