SEEING A MAN ABOUT A DOG
Actually, I hope not going to see a dog. I'm off to see a new play produced by a friend.
Confession: I almost never go to see plays, and when I do, I am almost always disappointed; while when I see movies, I usually enjoy myself. For me a dramatic work, whether on film or in person, should be about someone trying to get or avoid something. So many plays seem to be about nothing more than people at each other without
seeming to be driven by goals. They're not talking to each other to get something, they're talking at
each other, so the playwright can communicate something to the audience.
("Shall we destroy the Earth?" asks one of the alien invaders in my stepson's latest Captain Underpants novel. "No, not until it is narratively convenient," replies another. If Captain Underpants gets it, why can't playwrights?)
They're also often Acting. The playwright has given them Big Lines Full Of Sound and Fury, for the benefit of the audience. The effect is more poetic or lyrical than dramatic, in the sense of the genre they're in. While the lines are meant to sound dramatic, nothing dramatic is actually occurring. There is noise, but no drama.
And if you're going to do that, pop music is really a far better medium than plays. If you want drama, there are some fine moments on good tv shows and in movies. There were even some nice dramatic scenes in Hellboy
for that matter (or as I have to call it around the house, Heckboy).
So I pretty much only go to the theatre if I know and love the play, or at least, the playwright. Generally that means Shakespeare or someone else from before 1913, after which, I think, the movies usurped the purpose of telling people stories, and plays started to go to hell. I've enjoyed Arthur Miller's stuff, and Balm in Gilead
, and a few more.
It seems to me that plays have by and large gone the way of painting after photography came in, or classical music after movie music came in. They are no longer a representation of life, they're striving to find another artistic objective (such as possibly creating a ritual space?), and so they've become excessively difficult and crunchy.
I hope that's not the case here!