Monday, 14 December 2015

Poetry! On Diderot and Aristotle and All That

It's time for a poem, some rhymes to unpick
What's bothering me and making me kick
Out at the arts that provide me with work.
I feel at my core I'm a tedious jerk.

Put aside subtext (that's probably clear
That there's been heartbreak for genius here)
And look at the facts.
Vile is struggling with performative acts.

It started when Diderot first came to my sight.
He was writing of politics, how theatre can fight
To change values, to present a case
For new sociability and capital's grace.

Now Diderot's plan, which goes down the ages
Was to adapt the drama for bourgeoisie stages.
He reacted against the traditions of monarchical times
Who liked some Greek Tragedy to occlude their crimes.  

Brecht, he adopted Diderot's intentions
To have a good nosey at social conventions.

In the East GDR, he found an ensemble
To frighten the right and make capitalists tremble.

The Poetics were dumped, the Unities trashed
To imagine theatre that could Tyranny smash.
But beneath the assumptions of staging and script,
Diderot's aim was subtly flipped.

Brecht used the idea - like Ibsen before him - 
That engaged theatre was a suitable forum
To offer and argue the radical choice
Giving the Man-in-the-Street a loud voice.

But artists don't care about wider concerns
They'll teach the crowd and the audience learns
Whatever it's told: there's no freedom here
Nor meaningful chat, just more pity and fear.

If you've got this far, you desire a reward
I've got some old CDs you can have for your hoard.
But cut to the essence and feel my defeat.
Theatre's performance's defined by elites.

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