Monday, 29 May 2017

Is Gig Theatre Interesting?

Gig theatre's a busted flush, isn't it? It feels like two obsolete art forms, clinging each other and slowly sinking. As far as I can remember, the native energy of rock music died in about 2004, replaced by hip-hop, electronica or posing through a series of hackneyed moves that once belonged to rebellious youth.

Teddy Boys slashed the seats in the cinema. Ravers were beaten by the police while protesting for their right to dance. Ferocious guitars chased psychedelic ecstasy, driven by tribal beats. Then, somewhere, business took complete control and even the graduates of a performing arts university could sneer like Elvis or appropriate an accent that sounds a bit working class.

Rock was about authenticity, wasn't it? At its best - thinking of Nick Cave's From Her to Eternity - it could tell a story in three minutes more effectively than Shakespeare. Give of take some clumsy algebra of desire towards the end, here's jealousy distilled in a way to make Othello blush.

That's not to say the various artists making gig-theatre are bad, misguided or unnecessary. In itself, it is as valuable a strategy as reading Aristotle, adding in a pinch of clowning or getting a choreographer to do the physical theatre interludes. But in itself, it has no virtue. And the number of people boasting it makes it a fad.

But never mind me: maybe there is still something left in the fusion. Perhaps my hearing has dulled, and the chime of guitars and the crackle of the amplifier can transform. Maybe my favourite show (VSPRS by Les Ballets C de La B) was gig theatre: it had a gypsy band powering through arrangements of Monteverdi. Maybe rock and roll can save your mortal soul, or at least lend a bit of dynamism to a script about first world problems. 

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