Wednesday, February 11, 2009
"If theatre fails to react rapidly to current events, whether it be the Middle East crisis or the global financial meltdown, it will be reduced to the role of an impotent bystander. What theatre can also do is delve behind the headlines." Michael Billington in The Guardian today, responding to a short play Caryl Churchill just wrote about Gaza (http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/theatreblog/2009/feb/11/royal-court-theatre-gaza)
We're attempting to react rapidly to current events in our devised piece, Times 365:24:7, that is coming to The Brick's mainstage in a little over a month... we start previews on March 13th. As the blogger is here, we feel like we're chasing after events trying to respond to them and create interesting characters who are defined by the news in different ways: whether as makers of the news or receivers or subjects...
I'm Anna, the director of the show and artistic director of Bone Orchard. I think that because the theatre is a live medium that combines words and images in real time, it has a responsibility to be current. I don't really understand why we/the field don't strive for this more. It definitely sets up the risk of failure, but then failure is important, if terrifying. Samuel Beckett: 'No matter, try again, fail again, fail better.'
Why else do you make anything artistic except to be part of a dialogue with the present moment - to enlarge the present in some way, to respond to it and take it into a different kind of conversation?
Film does this actually more than theatre right now, but this is ironic because film is an artform that is always necessarily behind itself because of the production and editing process. Theatre, however, has the potential to exploit its liveness and ability to react immediately to events...
so we are making immediate theatre to attempt this: to build a piece that has strong foundations (scenes and characters that the actors develop over time), but that can also adapt and grow, changing each night a little as the news itself does.