Friday, 19 February 2016

Where I am Going Wrong as a Critic

My recent studies at Glasgow University have led me into a quandary. Despite frequent failures, I have a vague ethical code. Part of this code is a resistance to the idea that theatre should follow a particular structure or value system.

Then I read Diderot, and decided that he was a bourgeois advocate of theatre-as-political weapon. I started to trace his influence on romantic, modernist and contemporary theatre. 

I used to blame God ('in the beginning was the word') and Shakespeare for the dominance of the script in British theatre. Now, I blame Diderot for the dominance of the 'auteur' or genius

My next step was to shout about the dangers of political relevance, arguing that it is compromised by its relationship to Diderot's ideas about art, which were revolutionary before the French Revolution, but have now become hegemonic (that is, invisible and controlling the understanding of culture).

The language of art, the cultural climate, the hidden assumptions, the very architecture of a theatre are, in my Matrix-addled vision, are bourgeois and support capitalism.

Even Brecht, who reckoned Marx was his perfect audience, is corrupted by his connection to Diderot's idea that theatre ought to reflect the social challenges of the day.

I've begun to demand that theatre recognises it political compromises. I have rejected 'socialist theatre' because it remains within the structures of the bourgeois. 

My work for The List and The Stage has not been corrupted. But this blog contains a mind virus. 


  1. Probably not the points you were getting at, but as so often happens, a blog of yours has sparked off a blog of my own - I'm basically just a leech of your original ideas! :P