What do they know of theatre who only theatre know?
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
As Pirate Dog curls up at my feet, I read once again Lyn Gardner’s Guardian blog about people sleeping in the theatre. She makes the interesting point that while, nowadays, talking in the audience is seen as rude and disruptive, gently snoozing during a performance is somehow okay. Of course, the sound of snoring can be as irritating as the bright little screens of mobiles being used to txt, and it usually goes on much longer. Gardner’s piece suggests, as Peter Brook has done in the past, that part of the responsibility for boring theatre lies with the performers and with the production. If the piece is dull enough, all you can expect from the audience is zzz... One solution is younger audiences, another is uncomfortable seats. I noticed that for Mike Bartlett’s Cock, at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, the makeshift staging has hard seats with no backs. If you fall asleep in this show, you’ll not slump, but fall over.
Aleks Sierz is author of In-Yer-Face Theatre: British Drama Today (Faber, 2001), The Theatre of Martin Crimp (Methuen Drama, 2006), John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger (Continuum, 2008), Rewriting the Nation: British Theatre Today (Methuen Drama, 2011) and Modern British Playwriting: The 1990s (Methuen Drama, 2012). He is editor of The Methuen Drama Book of 21st Century British Plays (2010) and co-editor (with Martin Middeke and Peter Paul Schnierer) of The Methuen Drama Guide to Contemporary British Playwrights (2011). He is a member of the UK Critics' Circle and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts. A journalist, broadcaster and theatre critic at large, he is also Senior Research Fellow at Rose Bruford College and teaches postwar British theatre at the London branch of Boston University.