Why do I always have déjà vu whilst watching plays?

Convener(s):Alan Sharpington

Participants: Sorry, forgot to take names! 

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations: 

Generally speaking, theatre follows trends. This generates waves of imitations and plays which are produced not with passion and idealism but with marketing in mind. This creates mediocrity, although this is inevitable, purely by the law of averages – not everything can be great or even good. Mediocrity is not a crime but an unavoidable result of mass productions. In a time of financial uncertainty (all the time?) producers and directors try to second-guess what is about to be popular, what the new wave is going to be. Often they are right, often they are wrong – both are potentially deadly.

As an audience member, this has led to me seeking out certain types of theatre, a quick flick through the listings to see what my next visit to the theatre will be. As a reaction to seeing so many things I would class as tedious, puerile etc, I choose a genre of theatre which has satisfied me in the past, such as site-specific work, verbatim theatre, anarchic comedy, companies I know. Unfortunately, this has become comparable to a drug addiction – try it once, it’s great but taking the same drug will never get you that high again no matter how much you put in your veins.

The solution, then, would appear to be simple – go and see work that you would not normally see. This does not mean, for instance, that I need to book my tickets for Phantom of the Opera when I leave York Hall today, but perhaps start to take chances on work that I don’t know, where I have no expectations. Yes, it’s risky, it could end up being a terrible choice but that is surely a better option than the almost certain disappointment that follows seeing the usual suspects.

Who knows, it might just be brilliant.