Why I Watch – Theatre & Me

Lately I’ve been kind of involved in the art we call theatre. Writing, acting. But these past couple of weeks I’ve done none of that, instead I’ve visited a lot of plays. And watching theatre performed right in front of you, is maybe the most tiresome way to be involved.
For either the play is so enchanting, so mesmerizing that I takes days to recover. Words echo in your mind, the smell of the actor’s sweat stays with you, you recognize scenes in every-day life. And, most worrisome of all, you repeat phrases out of context and you’re upset that no-one else finds it as thoughtful as it was meant to be. (“Or not to be, that is the question.” See what I mean?)
But this is fine. It’s like living in a big book of spells and you get to see one acted out in front of you, once in a while. The big ugly world is a little bit sunnier for a while, and life is bearable, slightly, until you need a new fix.
The real problem comes, when you are in desperate need of a fix of captivating mind-blowing blood-quenching theatre, and that you’re faced with a bunch of emotionless hippies that don’t understand a single word they’re uttering – although they might say it with a most delightful cheer. When you’re made witness of an uneventful event that is full of clutter.
Tonight I saw precisely such a play. A beautiful Greek original materpiece, stripped of all its beauty, and left with only the complexity of names and willful and god-inspired acts that are devoid of any meaning, filled up again with attributes and lectures. As if I don’t know who ate whose children, and why Iphegenia was killed. (Not to mention the fact that they didn’t even know how to pronounce Clytemnestra.)
I don’t go to the theatre to be taught mythology, to be told a story, to be entertained. Please, the world is full of entertainment and bad teachers already, don’t take away from me the few things that remain – music and words. Please go away and make television shows for elderly people, teach people correct grammar, something, but don’t spoil the truth that the event of theatre is capable of. Don’t look at me, the audience, but look at yourselves.
Perhaps I am not of this age, in which everything must go faster and wilder, in which sex and murder are the only things that can capture someone’s mind for longer than a second. But there are more people like me, there must be, for else there would be nothing left in this world but the idle imaginations of the remnants of the past.
It makes no sense. It should not make sense. There is no sense. Don’t pretend otherwise. But please, don’t add to the heap of nonsense already present in this world.

© jan versweyveld

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