Friday, 11 November 2016

No Intermission

I’ve been complaining about this for a long time, but what is actually going on here?
Try and find me a play with an intermission; they no longer exist. 
Last night I went to see Breathing Corpses at Coal Mine Theatre. They lady at the door said the play would last one hour and and half.
I timed it; Breathing Corpses clocked in at a cool one hour and forty five minutes. 
Nothing against Coalmine, it’s happening all over; and this was the latest hit from The Royal Court Theatre. Well obviously they will have no truck with intermissions in London, England, either. 
Dare I ask; what does ‘intermission’ mean
You might say; well people just had shorter attention spans back in the day.
Is that really true?
We know that years and years ago (like in the late 19th century) plays had three acts, and each act was a half hour long, and there were two fifteen minute intermissions between each.
Sure — you might say — time to have tea, have a drink, socialize.
I think it’s something more.
It all has to do with our relationship to reality.
Nowadays you can you can’t see a movie without these words popping up before the title:
“Based on a true story.”
Yes, from Ravi Jain chatting up his Mum to a couple of guys trying to figure out whether they are winners or losers, we live in the era of reality theatre, reality TV, reality everything. Hey, we’re not interested in anything that’s fiction, anything that’s made up.
The ‘no intermission’ thing started way back with Strindberg (incidentally, the founder of naturalism). You see, intermissions are too ‘metatheatrical’ too ‘suspension of disbelief’ — for those obsessed with truth. After all, what do you do at intermission? You turn to your friend or lover, and say “Here we are at the play, and you ask them ‘What is the theme of the play?" And they ask you — who is the best actor in the play, that is, who is the most convincing at pretending to be someone else?
But nowadays we don’t want to be reminded that we are watching a play. We do not wish to remember that what we are seeing is fiction.
After all, the new theatre buzzword is ‘immersive.’
But along with our insatiable hunger for reality, we may have forgotten something…….
theatre is not real; it’s unabashedly, perversely and deliciously, fake.
And though we like too imagine that some of us are more truthful than others, that some of us speak the truth and value the truth, more than others — could it be that we are all quite happy to live in our own separate fictions?
I dare you.
Come out into the lobby. 
We can share a cigarette and a drink, and gossip a little bit about who this actor is sleeping with or this actress is flirting with, about what’s going on behind the scenes.
Because after all it’s just a play.
Remember what it was like — long ago and far away?

When there was ‘make believe’?