A few days ago I went to see Assassins at the Menier Chocolate Factory, Stephen Sondheim’s 1990 musical about the nine men and women who, successfully or unsuccessfully, attempted to kill a president of the United States. It’s a fascinating show for many reasons: its vignette-style format with very little narrative, the way it’s staged on the long and narrow floor of the Chocolate Factory and, of course, its challenging subject.
Last week I promised a second part to my blog on my grievances with the current job market, and here we are. Let’s just say you acquire a lot of frustrations when your main employment is finding employment. Apart from my issues with the internship-situation I described last week, there’s another problem: the need employers feel to hire people with ‘experience’. It probably sounds rather unreasonable of me to take issue with that; after all, wouldn’t everyone take an experienced person over an inexperienced one? Doesn’t experience just make someone more qualified to do a job?
So, for the past few months I’ve been applying for jobs, along with writing my dissertation at first and since the start of October next to all the other stuff unemployed people do (like hang out in their pyjamas and eat biscuits). And the more positions I apply for, the more I’m starting to think there’s something fundamentally wrong with the system.
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.