Wednesday, November 03, 2004

. . . going to shows . . .

Before the sinus medication makes me pass out . . .

I was thinking about SHOWS lately. The kids these days, they like the shows. The rock shows, the live shows, the show shows. They like going to shows, they like being tired from going to shows, they like bouncing cooly and/or standing silently and enjoying their shows.

I do not like going to shows.

For the longest time, I couldn't put my finger on why. I like music, and I like live music, and I like dancing to live music. It's kind of fun looking like a jackass, you know? But Going To Shows, I've never enjoyed. I recently the Empty Space by Peter Brook, which is a book abou theatre. It classifies theatre as Deadly, Holy, and Rough--Deadly is what a lot of theatre becomes, Holy is what it longs to be, and Rough is what it has to start out as if it wants to become that. The theatre is holy by nature, it's ritual--it's more than storytelling, it's an agreement and a collaboration between the people on stage and those in the audience. Theatre becomes deadly when it strives only for holy and forgets about the rough. The rough theatre is the vulgar theatre, it's puppet shows and smut. It's Shakespeare, you know? The rough theatre is when the actors from the House walk around in the lobby before showtime, already in costume. The rough theatre is accepting the audience as collaborators, in presenting a show to them instead of telling them to watch it. When it's rough, by nature it is elevated to holy--but it can't stay there for too long, or it becomes deadly.

The surest way to become deadly is to aim for only the holy. When a troupe puts on Shakespeare and think it means fake accents and elaborate costumes. It happens when the theatre, when the show exists with a gulf between itself and the audience.

I'm also reading the Grapes of Wrath, and I just got to a part where they're square dancing. The Joads are staying in a government camp, and every Saturday night they have a dance. There's a band, and the band plays, and there's square dancing. And that was it! With square dancing, there's music, but it's not about just that. It's not about standing at the edge of the stage and gazing up in awe and wonder, in seeing a person play in the flesh. It's about the music being played, right there in the same room, so you can dance to it. So you can swing someone around by the arm, look like a god damn fool, and have a good time doing it.

Going to Shows is like that. It's going to see a band play, or it's going to hear music, it's aiming for the holy, and it's deadly. It's moved away from something that was once really fun. It's not rough anymore. It's smokey and it's sweaty, but it's not vulgar. It's practiced and it's cool, but it's not embarrassing.

I don't like going to shows.

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