Saturday, June 6, 2009

Whose Face?

I was recently sent a link to an article in The Australian about the young Perth director Matthew Lutton. For others (like me) who missed it the first time around I have included it below (The Face: Matthew Lutton, by Victoria Laurie, 21/2/09). You can't help but admire the guy's chutzpah. One small part was worth a reread. For playwrights, in particular,

"...we compare notes on whether we go to the theatre to see a play or rather to savour a strong directorial vision.

"(Lutton) If there's two versions of Women of Troy showing in a city, I go to see Barrie Kosky's version because I want to see what he does," he says. "Otherwise I can go home and read the play: I go to hear his voice.""

Do you go to the theatre to "see a play" or "to savour a strong directorial vision"? I stay home and read plays a fair amount too, but I'd like to think that if they were all playing in my city, I'd go - strong directorial vision or not. There's something about hearing them aloud. It's almost as if they were written that way. After reading the article for the first time I made angry toast. That's the toast you make when you cut each slice into four squares, not because you need to but because it makes you feel better. I ate the toast and read the article again. I believe in story. I almost feel the need to apologise for this but you'll notice that I don't.

I believe in a collaboration between director and playwright (when there is one. And some of the old ones might not be around so much anymore, but they wrote stuff down. That's the thing about playwrights, we write stuff down). I believe in a collaboration for the production of stories that are not owned by the director, or the playwright, or even the performers. I believe in a collaboration for the production of stories to be owned by the audience. The audience own your work. If your audience leaves feeling that it is yours, and not theirs, then you have failed. If your audience leaves believing that they are not smart enough for you, or smart enough for theatre, then you have failed. Yes, you. And when I say you I don't mean Lutton or Kosky or anyone else with a strong directorial vision, I mean you, dear reader & fellow theatre maker, or me. Yes. Usually I mean me. If my audience leaves believing that they are not smart enough for me, or smart enough for theatre, then I have failed.

When a person buys a novel she can take it home and put in on her shelf. She can write her name in it and decide whether it goes on the bottom shelf or the top one with the DVDs, or next to the lamp or under the painting she got from Ikea. That novel might be so great she reads it two or three times before lending it to a friend. Who returns it. She owns that novel. It lives in her house. A play, on the other hand, lives in a theatre. The theatre is someone else's house. She must be invited in. 'Not yet,' says the usher, 'we haven't opened the doors yet.' She only gets to see it once and not at any pace, or rereading the bits that were difficult, but once, and at one pace. In this day of object ownership - DVDs, books, paintings from Ikea - what can the theatre offer? The answer is complimentary key rings. No. Or maybe. Or maybe the answer is an experience that she feels she can own. A story she can take home. Theatre made for the audience. I believe in theatre that audiences feel empowered to own. Accessible is not a dirty word. Accessible is everything. I want them to take it home - the characters, the images, the ideas, the costumes, the memory of an actor - I want them to want to take it all home. That's all. Nothing else. Nothing else matters if you don't have that. I almost feel the need to apologise for it - How obvious! How sentimental! I almost feel the need to apologise for it but you'll notice that I don't.


- Amelia Roper

1 comment:

  1. just read this post with my cup of tea - you're a wonderful writer with a great comic talent. well written, well done, thank