Theater “Fringe theatre is too conventional.”
posted by November 4 at 14:39 PMon
In a two-second break from thinking about the election:
Remember the first two points of the Ten Things Theaters Need to Do Right Now to Save Themselves article?
They were “enough with the goddamned Shakespeare already” and “tell us something we don’t know” and were primarily aimed at fringe theaters.
At the Shitstorm forum the Rep hosted last week, several theater people vigorously denounced those two, accusing me of being a philistine and not having enough reverence for the classics. (Director George Mount—and founder of Wooden O, a fringe company dedicated to performing Shakespeare in parks—was particularly nettled, saying “we stand on the shoulders of giants.” In fact, his brand of aesthetic conservatism is fast asleep at the feet of giants.)
It’s refreshing to see my favorite arts section in the whole wide world, the Guardian’s, arguing the same points.
…it would seem the fringe’s purpose is to provide a home for the terminally reactionary. The Finborough’s show is the sort of kitchen sink drama that died out everywhere else years ago, while The Courtyard’s Measure for Measure is the straightest reading of a Shakespeare I have seen in years: no “concept”, no “reading”, no attempt to make it relevant, no freighting with contemporary political significance - in short it looks like the director has just tried to “let the play speak for itself”.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, per se, but it is nevertheless baffling. The fringe grew up to provide space for new and experimental forms of work; theatre that could not be staged under the nose of the Lord Chamberlain; theatre that challenged the status quo; theatre that asked unpalatable questions of society; theatre that made aesthetic choices that outraged audiences - disquieting theatre; disruptive theatre.
Its receiving houses are all too often home to productions by directors seeking to showcase their mainstream talents and its producing houses play it safe with solid revivals of tried and tested classics.
Preach it, Guardian.
Read the whole thing here.