Seven things I learned about theatre in the past 10 days


There are many things to know about theatre. Maybe one day I will know them all. For now, I am satisfied with the following seven things I learned about theatre in the last 10 days:

1) The bit in Glengarry Glen Ross where Alec Baldwin comes in to scream obscenities at all the salesmen was written for the movie – and is not in the play.

2) Daniel Brooks prefers not to do interviews via email.

3) Canadian playwright and actor Marjorie Chan thinks that questions that relate “identity performance” to “theatrical performance” are pretentious.

4) There is a thing called “Twitter plays.”

5) Shakespeare is still boring as hell.

6) The theatre blog market is becoming saturated with high-quality offerings. Those of us who are hoping to retain or acquire market share without putting in the work might not drown, but we ain’t going to thrive neither. You don’t get a prize just for being alive, as they say.

7) The contemporary electronica group Massive Attack once did a soundtrack for a 1965 Samuel Beckett film called, Man Next Door. It’s reminiscent of that Pink Floyd-Wizard of Oz mashup Dark Side of the Rainbow – minus the awesome.

So that’s me all caught up. Do you have anything you’ve learned about theatre in the past 10 days that you’d like to share?

5 thoughts on “Seven things I learned about theatre in the past 10 days

  1. Ian! It saddens me that you think Shakespeare is boring as hell…why? WHY?

    The past few weeks I’ve learned:

    1. It is possible to cook chips and eggs perfectly on stage whilst delivering a rambling monologue to a wall.

    2. Actors talking at each other instead of to each other can kill an otherwise good play and production. (Of course, I already knew this, but it was reinforced).

    3. There comes a point in any production not going well where you have to accept the facts, set aside your ego, and do everything you can to pull it all together. Theatre is a team sport.

    4. The Tragically Hip are still amazing, 26 years later. I realize this may not seem theatrical, but if you’ve seen them live, believe me, it’s theatre.

    5. Theatre people are awesome beings.

  2. “There comes a point in any production not going well where you have to accept the facts, set aside your ego, and do everything you can to pull it all together.”

    I love this! Let’s have more straight talk about what goes right and wrong on our productions.

    Regarding Shakespeare. Sorry. It’s not you, it’s me. I’m ignorant and intolerant and gosh darn it the fact that we’re still producing plays written by a long-dead rich white man, well it just bugs me. Baz Luhrmann’s R&J wasn’t bad though, if you cut out the parts with dialogue.

    Re: your #5. Theatre people are awesome. Agreed. Except for the ones who aren’t.

  3. I see you found my blog post regarding professionalism and what goes wrong, so I’ll speak to that there.

    Re: Shakespeare…

    I get what you’re saying…But what bugs me isn’t that we’re still producing the long-dead rich white man’s plays (I think many of them still speak to our modern humanity…not all, but many). No, what bugs me is when we claim to be producing a “definitive” version, or to be producing them as (we think) they were produced in Shakespeare’s day. I feel like the productions that make these claims tend to be dry, academic, and sanitized.

    Shakespeare gets lost when we ignore the fact that his plays, though some are close, are not perfect. Many of them are problematic. They’re messy. And they were written on the fly to be performed, not to be read in classrooms. They tell dirty jokes, talk about sex, and seriously question the social order. And they’re full of life.

    I guess what I love about them is that 400 odd years later, we still have not exhausted all possibilities. And how many modern works have been based on him?

    And yes, I too think Baz Luhrmann’s R&J would have been improved by losing the dialogue.

    All this being said, if you’re free next weekend and want to see Shakespeare in a parking lot, I’ll buy you a beer after the show ;)

    Finally, re: theatre people. I’ve decided that the ones who aren’t awesome, aren’t really theatre people.

  4. Originally Baldwin had Pacino’s part for the film, I heard, but when Pacino became available, Mamet wrote the new character just for him.

    Personally I can acknowledge the brilliance and legacy of Shakespeare while yet being honest that most of it bores the shit out of me, too … especially since it’s overdone, far, far overdone.

  5. See, this is why I want to do something like “Cymbeline.” A really cool, not oft produced Shakespeare.

    I would agree that much of it is overdone…

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