Yes, it's Halloween and of course that means that we can all go to the cinema and see Danny Boyle's 2011 production of Frankenstein via NT Live Encore, which I myself did last night. In the year and a bit since I came to London I have seen a few NT screenings and I'm not ashamed to say that I'm a big fan of them. This sentiment, however, is not unanimously shared among theatre folk; Alan Ayckbourne voiced his belief that cinema screenings of plays will stop people going to the theatre, while last month Cillian Murphy remarked that 'if you put a camera on the theatre, it dies'.
One of the things I love about the theatre is that it’s a place where you have a good chance of being confronted with new points of view and of having your beliefs challenged. Although, maybe ‘love’ isn’t the right word, because more often than not this is not a comfortable process. Sure, you come across shows that present a perspective that’s more or less compatible with your own worldview. Or they might introduce you to matters you’ve never really thought about before and don’t have much of an opinion on. But quite often I find myself seeing things on stage that are distinctly antipathetic to my own views. This doesn’t necessarily happen in shows that are overtly political; it can just as easily be a throw-away remark in a light-hearted musical. In fact, the latter category is actually more likely because, like most people, I tend to avoid shows that I anticipate will be contrary to my own beliefs. In other words, if you have a ‘classic’ production of Taming of the Shrew planned I won’t be attending. After all, I don’t go to the theatre to silently fume in my seat for two hours.
Written for Everything Theatre
As most theatregoers will be aware, theatre people are a superstitious bunch. For good reasons too: throughout history being involved in performance, especially as an actor, has come with its own unique set of dangers and difficulties. From being thrown out of the 15th century church to being thrown into the 21st century job market, life on stage is full of insecurities. It’s no wonder then that it’s often been tried to somehow reduce that insecurity. Below you’ll find a number of tried and tested methods.
Last weekend I started doing some preliminary research for a weekend trip to Amsterdam I’m going next month. As the only Dutch person in the group, it seemed sensible that I would be the one making the travel arrangement and, more importantly, find some interesting theatre shows to see.
Two weeks ago I had the wonderful opportunity to go to Berlin with some of my course mates and see a few shows at the annual Theatertreffen, a festival that brings theatre companies from different countries together in one programme. It was a great experience, not in the least because the performances were radically different from the stuff you generally encounter on the London stages. For starters, two of the four shows we saw weren’t actually about anything at all. And I don’t mean that in a Beckett, ‘I can see some meaning if I squint really hard’ kind of way. They really, really were outright nonsense. And, to my great surprise, I absolutely loved them.