Ravaged: Why is most theatre not very good?

Nathan Keates, 16 September 2012

Beginning the discussion with a dispute.

“...I have seen loads of fantastic theatre...”

However, it was also claimed that maybe it was just that person. The discussion was in context to the Edinburgh Fringe and how great shows were missed with gaining small audience numbers.

Moving onwards, we discussed how loads of money is spent on great companies and people and ends with rubbish productions. A recent Pina Bausch piece was dated and further described, detailing the devastating experience with more alliteration with d's. It all came down to there is no truth onstage.

So why do we goto the theatre? What are our expectations?

“I sit through less bad theatre...” than those that wade through literary submissions and music etc. This was a good point that turned to people enjoying the fact that bad theatre is a good thing.

Nonetheless, we want good theatre. We want to be RAVAGED AND VIOLATED please!

People are waiting to be inspired, but you can learn from bad theatre. It is the mediocre theatre we need to be concerned about. It is possible to wait for that production that will be a profound transformative experience. An example is Lindsay Kemp's ‘Flowers’, which changed the people watching in some way. Also, it was brought up that perhaps a consistant ravaging would be tiresome. So once in every ten years? Once a month? Like the old Carry On quote, “Once a week would do me.” However, as theatre makers we are not the normal audience.

We also don't talk to non-theatre makers. So are we too critical? Howard Barker says theatre is a mechanism, so are we allowing ourselves to experience? However, it was brought up that we, as individuals, do actually experience differently though.

Looking at theatre as medium allows us to see that we just want ot be entertained, or broadly engaged. In anyway, we could be engaged with story, music, intellectually, visually or anyway.

But it is hard to create to make the audience ravaged! No one can say I shall ravage this audience. But we can also be glad most theatre is bad, as one could not encounter the sublime often. Still..


...an aim that is important.

By seeing a production twice we see its tricks. Theatre is made for one viewing. This person hoped for a new experience in multiple viewings. Alike in films, we can see new things in another opportunity to watch the film. However, as Grotowski says,

“...theatre can't be films...”

Theatre Porn: no deep impact

We are supposed to think it is marvellous. In the theatre, they can just stop. A hollywood film can't - it has been made and will have no impact on them when the audience views it. In the theatre your discomfort radiates and affects the performers. Forced Entertainment expand this and prolong this feeling, as experienced in workshopping with them by a ‘discussionee’. The awkwardness is ravaging.

If there was more time to create the production then it would be better. However, this was instantly disagreed with on the basis that there is no guarantee to this. To constantly be sharing and doing the work is better. Progress can be made through this method.

Perhaps theatres make shows bad? Not saying a shitty theatre is a bad theatre, sometimes they are the best. These theatres have soul, so we need theatres with souls. However, we can build a soul in a empty space.

Another opposing view is there is a difference from making theatre in the space and touring into the space. In contrast to this we can say that touring companies need to be changeable to the space they enter. However, if the companies design for a blackbox theatre, then it should be easily changeable?

How about audience as participants than passive? The term passive was objected. For example, one audience member for three hundred performers.

We skipped past this and said that Chapter Arts Centre has a instant buzz and the theatre is alright too. So we have a ‘duty of engagement’ to the audience that we get them and make them wish to see more theatre. Thus, make them ravaged. But then again, we don't wake up to make a shit show. Another point is that we have them throughout our career and not only at the start.

The risk can be reduced for the audience by making it an affordable experience. Therefore, not twenty pounds for a ticket, but three pounds. People are more prepared to see something when it is cheaper. An audience will take a risk from curiosity. We can get students, young people in with cheaper tickets. The ‘pay what you can’ scheme does not work, as those that can afford more don't pay more. So 'pay the most you can' is a better phrase.

Various schemes are around and have been in existence. Examples are, free first previews if you live in the borough or Birmingham Rep are offering babies born in two hospitals free tiockets for the first ten years of their lives. It all comes down to cheap tickets.

We are thankful to the twitter impact we had too.
Cartoon de Salvo
RT @annabelturpin: @cartoondesalvo @analogue_ I think audiences are often ignored...in making of (bad) theatre, not just execution.

Seemingly I cannot get them all now.

It all was about the Brutual Ravaging Rejection.

We followed this by the examples of audience reactions. From Improbable's performing why someone left and taking their voice to having twenty minutes of nothing and the audience panicked or leaving for a drink and returning after. Likewise with having a date onstage and teens returning after the interval to leave two minutes in.

On Channel 4 there was a programme about fifty people following someone and we said how witnessing the person's life is why theatre is great. It was attempted to say that witnessing the overcoming of obstacles is what it is, but countered with just witnessing. In Improbable's ‘Life Game’ we witness the life of someone - its great. Sometimes it sucks and they learnt that if they said the truth then the show is better. ‘I feel you are lying to me, that scene sucked.’ Be honest about what is happening. Being an improv show, then it clearly works. It also is the same for theatre in general.

"I feel suitably ravaged!"


bad, Theatre, impro, production, Improv, twitter, suck, ravaged, violate, witness, good, improv, theatre, Twitter