Monday, 14 May 2007

Political Theatre

Talking of Gordon, what about political theatre itself. It’s thriving many people would say. Well, I’m not so sure. One political view dose not a political theatre scene make, polemical theatre, yes. We in the UK, especially amongst certain people in London, have become cynical haters of our ruling classes, they can never be sincere, they can never be right is the message. No real debate about the state of the nation or achievements or otherwise of said despicable rulers is possible. If you listened to Pinter or Hare you’d think we were being ruled by a fascist junta who regularly mow people down in the streets. That’s not to say concerns over civil liberties, war and our relationship with the US are not valid, just that hyperbolic denunciations are not helpful to a mature political discourse.
I’m a liberal left wing person, of course I am, I like culture. All nice people who like culture are left wing liberals, no? Well, no actually. But none the less, I don’t despise or hate the (liberal left of centre) government (who are certainly not ‘just like the Tories’, minimum wage, devolution and gay rights for starters), neither do I think all politicians are in it for themselves or sleazy scumbags. I think politics is generally full of people trying to do their best, but the old adage ‘politics is show business for ugly people’ probably does ring true to a certain extent. But then you can have a healthy ego and still care about people (I hope).

My concern is that theatre contributes to the general cynicism and disengagement with the political process; it might be a ‘political’ play, but it just panders to the cynics and turns everyone off any further debate. When of course theatre could be a forum for genuine ideas and debate, or are we too complacent over out domestic situation to care much about debate these days? I just feel putting on yet another anti war play to an audience full of pre converted zealots is a rather pointless and boring exercise, as is the frequent vilification of Tony Blair in particular. I think a main problem in this is that we don’t really see big domestic issue plays; we see the much more attractive international/war plays more often. People like them, they are morally certain of the position they will take and you can leave the theatre feeling all self righteous (‘we went on the march darling’). In Edinburgh last year it was hard to avoid plays about Iraq (some were good, others bad).

It is simply for the reason that I am so interested in politics, and feel it so important, that I would like a reassessment of the way politics appears onstage

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