Almost too ridiculous

From The Times. 12 July 2019:

“Please beware. There may be nudity. Or loud noises. Or cigarette smoking” 

“Theatre productions issue all sorts of health warnings to ticket buyers these days.  But London’s Donmar Warehouse has gone a step further: it is protecting audiences from any possible distress by giving detailed information in advance about scenes that may be emotionally challenging. Of its play “Europe”, written by David Greig, it had this to say on its website:

“In the first half of the play, a man repeatedly places his hand on a woman’s leg, to her discomfort. In the second half, a man beats up another man due to his status as a migrant. A man describes a violent attack on a woman.”

“This isn’t pandering to the over-sensitive, insists the theatre’s executive producer, Henny Finch: it’s “about being considerate to all audiences and ensuring everybody feels comfortable”. Really? Since when has drama been about making people feel comfortable? The aim of good theatre is often to shock, disturb or discomfit them. But remove any element of surprise or possibility of offence and you can say goodbye to that.  (Jawad Iqbal, The Times. 12 July 2019)

If you just want to feel good and have a harmless laugh go to a British pantomime (which doesn’t exist in America).  There you get camp acting and weak jokes.  I agree with the writer – theatre should deal with human motivations and illuminate raw emotion.  My wife and I have written two musicals, in the course of which we received advice from a drama-writing expert.  The basis of drama, he told us is a single principle: “who wants what from whom”.   Motivations are often hidden and not very nice.  In the theatre we learn about raw human needs and emotion.  Babying an audience is patronizing.  If you object to being shocked stay at home and watch TV.

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