A Riot of My Own
So I've written a blog post about criticism but I just don't have the heart to post it as theatres shut down and people board up their windows and stock up their fridges for another night of wildness. So what is relevant? Is this another catalyst for Great Art? I bloody hope not. I want to get back to work rather than be sent home. I want to sit on street corners with a can without fear of trouble. I want to go on to facebook for gossip rather than news of where the next riot will be and whether I can get home or not.
I'll publish my irrelevant post anyway. Can't hold me down.
So, I am back and have a few bees in my bonnet. In fact, my bonnet houses a whole nest - you'd worry about my head beneath it. The other day esteemed theatre critic Michael Billington wrote a blog post entitled 'How rude should theatre critics be?'. Have a read. It's an ever relevant topic for performers, makers and critics themselves and since we at BELLYFLOP tend to be all three of those things we are always discussing the worth of criticism. For me, I find other people's minds fascinating, discerning another person's logic, being allowed to observe the wanderings of their imagination, their frivolous prejudices and the particularity of their preferences. These are some of the things I enjoy about watching performance as well, seeing these things embodied in the work; it's as much about the subjectivity of the critic as it is about the work.
"How does a critic stay honest without giving offence? I'd say it's almost impossible" says Billington.
Rather than critics worrying about being rude, readers of the criticism should acknowledge the gap between the work and the writer, bridged by a river of personal prejudices and preferences. Working in theatres I am always shocked to see how audience numbers rise dramatically when Michael Billington has said a show is good. It's ridiculous. But then, how does one know what to watch? I guess I'm pretty big on judging a book by its cover - presentation is key and I don't think it's purely superficial, opinions, political stance, aesthetic and particularity of focus can all be inferred through presentation. Bad title - I wont go. Ugly picture - I wont go. Annoying dance photo - I wont go. Incredibly quirky site specific works promoted based purely on their quirky location - I wont go. Really cheesy by-line - I wont go...
I probably don't get out enough.