Friday, September 16, 2005

What makes good theatre?

"Anything but BORE me" - George Judy, FSU Faculty

I find myself shrugging my shoulders at this question. I don't know what makes 'good' theatre becuase everybody seems to want something different from their theatrical experiences.

To answer this question I have to come up with a successful definition of 'good' that deals not only with asthetics but also with concepts of universality.

The question itself, no matter how honest and sincere the interviewer, is itself a cliche, in that spirit...

I can only tell you that,
like obsenity, I know good theatre when I see it.
Like Jazz, if you have to ask you'll never know.
And like Fame, it usually only sticks around for 15 minutes but everybody gets a little of it sometime during the course of their life.

As a maker of Theatre, I wonder if we should aim at worrying about making 'good' theatre. I never try to make good theatre (save the puns please), I always try to make something that I want to watch. I don't know what the audience wants or thinks is good. I only know my own tastes.

I make theatre that I would want to see.

I also think that who is asking this question is always asking the wrong people. I don't think you need to ask actors or people with aspirations to perform this question. They will almost always perform their answers. Their answers will feel good, they will be littered with references to community, to humanity, to communicating...they will all have these tried, true and rote points in common. What was once truth is not trite, a trademark, a selling point.

Also, Artistic Directors, Directors of Marketing, and/or anybody who spends time wondering/worrying about the bottom budgetary line. Out of necessity, these people will always come up with answers that between the lines confirm their dearest hopes that an organization that is fiscally sound is that way becuase of good theatre/good marketing.

Marketing itself has become the most important aspect of theatre.

I forget who but someone famous once said 'Whenever I hear someone talking about community...I make sure to have a firm grasp of my wallet'. After a decade of fearful grant writing, this answers are now rote responses from would be dilletantes who were born 2 to 3 decades too late. These sort of responses are engineered to be what we think the audience wants to hear.

Good Theatre considers the needs of the community? And a duck goes quack...come on what else?

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