Thursday, September 29, 2005

Take action!

I'm on strike. I'm not going to class. That's right, I'm fighting the man today.

The Manifesto of the Strike of September 29th 2005:

I will not read about things I already know about. I will not sit in class and study a play superficially using terms that noone has really defined. I will not play "who's the best actor" outside on smoke breaks. I will not play "who's more stressed out this semester" after class.

And most importantly, I will not use "post-modern" in a sentence.

Today is a day to revoke my university student status... maybe someone in administration will do that for me because I keep forgetting to mail that damn tuition cheque.

Okay, really, I just have a killer case of sour grapes right now. I fucked up and didn't leave myself enough time to do my work for this morning's 8:30 a.m. class. So now I'm playing the whole "I am too smart for that class anyways" card. But I am not minimizing my valid problems I have with the way this course is being taught.

In my mind, post-secondary education was supposed to foster independent thought and not encourage the regurgitation of other people's view points in a most uneloquent manner. What happened to critical thinking? How come it feels like I am the only one doing it lately?

This class I am skipping right now is about forms of "alternative theatre" (another one of those blasted undefined terms that should not be used any longer) and how they relate to the audience. A survery course of theatrical trends. So last week we looked at political theatre.

First off, if we are going to continue to call ourselves post-modern, or at least call current theatre movements post-modern, maybe we should fully suscribe to that notion and just admit that all theatre is political... Instead, it is implied that community plays are less political than "political plays". Apparently to be political, you have to obviously condemn or support a certain political view-point. So mention the NDP, bitch about Dubya and bingo, there is your political theatre. But what about that community play that dealt with the poverty issues in a rural farm town and how noone in the government would help them out is not political by nature? How come we don't call that one political? It is really pissing me off that even if we call ourselves post-modern, we don't follow a main part of post-modernism which is that everything is essentially political, or socio-economic by nature. What's even worse is that noone is even fucking talking about it.

My second problem with this course is that although we are dealing with meaty subjects, we are sticking strictly to analyzing the aesthetics of the plays and their forms. Sure, that's fine, I know I'm in a theatre course and generally, we try to stick to studying what makes theatre what it is, and I think that in theatre courses we should talk about theatre. However, to look at the aesthetic properties of a certain "political play" and from that point, assume that we know the intricacies of how that play interacted with the audience is ludicrous. What the fuck happened to content? Pass out an Ibsen play and the prof is all about analyzing plot, themes, characters and, here's the biggie, social context. Then we can all see why that play was written when it was written and thus, why people went to see the damn thing in the first place. So why don't we do that with these "political plays"? How come we don't even bring up the content? Is someone in the department afraid of being controversial? Is someone afraid of getting into a discussion about current events in a class about current theatre? Did someone along the way forget that it is important to have a STORY to tell and that theatre is not all about theatrical conventions or lack thereof?!

So this week's discussion is about documentary theatre, which is, you guessed it, political. I don't want to sit through another fucking chat that doesn't touch on the content of the play. I was in one a few years ago about living in the 30's in Canada. Pretty dusty and depressing play, let me tell you. But at least we had respect for why that play was written and why people went to see it. It was important to tell the untold stories of the men and women who lived through that shitty decade. And noone pretended that the reason why that play is regarded as one of Canada's greatest pieces is because it has a couple of flashback sequences.

So, maybe my prof won't understand my frustration through this morning's absence, but at least I can go in next week and start voicing my opinions. Maybe I can bring in some independent thought into this class.

One person at a time, right?

1 comment:

DJ Evans said...

Personally I would like to excise the word 'ecclectic' from all posters advertising DJ nights in cardiff venues. I have long ago given up on 'post modern' as a meaningful phrase and now use it as a sort of intellectial hiccup when I haven't got a clue what I'm on about but am anxious to make out that I have something to say.

R.e. social context and theatre - what's it all about? I don't know any writer who gives a toss for meaning or masses when they start out. We're all attention seeking, ego driven monsters, happy to subscribe to the meaning the audience imposes.

We'd all sell our first born for the sniff of some sniff of immortality through posterior success.