Sunday, 31 March 2013

For the Love of (Local) Theatre & Diversity of the Arts

Things have been quiet on the review front. This is because I decided that in order to see more theatre, I was going to have to see more local theatre. I made a decision to take a break from west end shows for a little while. Between being so far away from London and the general cost of big production shows it was impossible to continue the way I had been without ending up with an empty bank account. I love theatre but I need to live too.

And for that love of theatre, I wanted to rediscover that first spark - Not just ticking the big budget musicals off my 'to see' list or following the "names" of theatre around, but discovering new kinds of theatre. Maybe seeing plays that I'm not sure I'll like, taking those firsts tentative steps into a world of ballet and experiencing the heights of opera.

It's all about expanding my passion (if this were 50 shades this would have a very different meaning). I remember being told at uni that you can learn more from a bad production than a good one. They were talking about theatre craft but I think it can be applied to the experience of it too. It helps you realise what theatre speaks to you and why/why not and how that differs from other people's experiences. I think it's important to challenge your preconceptions about what makes a good performance.

For example, I went to see 'Rape of the Fair Country' by Clwyd Theatr Cymru. For me, it didn't connect. I'm not particularly patriotic and there was just so much narration, very much in the style of Dylan Thomas's 'Under Milk Wood'. I've been too scarred by many a bad stage rendition of the welsh poets famous radio play - which I didn't like much to begin with.

However, it got a decent standing ovation from much of the rest of the audience and an elderly lady sitting in front of me was crying from the emotion, it clearly spoke to her. I couldn't get past the fact that the writer favoured telling over showing and it left me less than moved.

I was a bit reluctant going to see Communicado Theatre Company's 'The Government Inspector'. I didn't know much about Gogol's work & thought it might be heavy with russian politics and I'd be lost. It turned out to be quite funny and there was a nice little touch for the scene changes - the cast played Russian music, showing an aptitude for playing instruments as well as acting.

I also attended a party for the 25th anniversary of Volcano Theatre Company - an experimental physical theatre company who I had a work placement with a while back. That kind of theatre really isn't my thing, generally, but I do like their production processes. It's a very creative atmosphere to be a part of.

Over the last month, I've realised that I shouldn't have such a London-centric attitude - there's theatre and performance all around if you look for it. You may even find some hidden gems you never knew existed - I'm not sure when else I'd have had an opportunity to see Jonathan Larson's predecessor to 'Rent', the much lesser known 'Tick, Tick, Boom' especially at a time when it's most likely to resonate - when I too am on the cusp of that looming 30 milestone.

Nothing will replace musical theatre as my favourite form of theatrical entertainment. I treasure the escapism it offers too much and it's been in my life since the beginning. Maybe now and again, though, I'll flick through the local theatre and arts centre brochures, pick something I wouldn't normally consider and, possibly, find I really like it. And if not, at least I'll know for sure.


  1. Great post, I could not agree with you more. I was getting too obsessed with getting to London and when I wasn't there I was sad and counting the days until my next trip - loser haha! I ended up finding that Glasgow has a great theatre community and feel a lot more involved now. I'm sure there are gems waiting to be found :)


  2. Thanks Siobhan. This post was a reflective exercise in a way, so I'm glad you enjoyed reading it too :) I know what you mean about becoming obsessed with getting to London and I think that obsessiveness was killing the joy and passion a little.
    Since this experiment with local theatre I've discovered a lot about my likes and dislikes. In fact, I'm going to see another ballet this evening - a screening of royal opera house's 'Alice in Wonderland'. Think I'll post a review of that one ��