Preamble to writing about two shows at Summerhall, Edinburgh Fringe

I saw lots of lovely shows at the Fringe (yup, I’m back home already). Lovely, compassionate, honest (Mess), sweet, cuddleable (Blink), makes-you-think-and laugh-in-a-gentle and warm-way (The price of everything) inventive-with-props-and-excellent-if-you-like-that-sort-of-thing-which-I-don’t-much (A real man’s guide to Sainthood), very well written, insightful and ‘now’ ‘new writing’ (One Hour Only), not very ‘now’ but with good bits  ‘What’s he building in there?’…

A couple of very well crafted enjoyable, intelligent, higher budget productions:  Bullet Catch and Mies Julie.

Most – apart from Morning, which was disturbing and unsettling in a way that I greatly enjoyed – were cute, lovely, nice, funny, compassionate, honest, homemade, sincere, fluffy, feel good, playful, a little bit moving, considerate to audiences…

….so two shows I saw at Summerhall really made an impression. The Shit/La Merda and Puppet. The Book of Splendour were none of those things.

What do we go to the theatre for? As many different reasons as there are theatregoers? As many different responses to theatre as there are theatregoers…

People want to enjoy themselves, and (apart from Morning), you will enjoy yourself at all the above. I recommend them all. Especially Morning. And especially the other two that were in my top five.

Morning by Simon Stephens/Lyric photo by Marc Bremmer

Maybe you go to switch off, to have a rest, a bit of entertainment.  I do that by reading novels and watching TV and films. Where the seats are comfortable.

I want to enjoy being in the theatre too, but we may not agree on what constitutes enjoyment.

For instance when I was a student I enjoyed reading novels by Kathy Acker and watching videos of Grotoswki’s Akropolis and films by Tarkovsky–which may explain a few things.

Women Writers who broke the rules

So I’ve already made myself sound pretentious, next I’m going to sound naïve…I also want theatre to change me, to get into my subconscious, to give me enough images and enough space to be able to weave my own narratives through the work, I want to be on the edge of my breath, and the edge of my seat, I want to be physically engaged by it, I want to be disturbed and impressed and overwhelmed by …

You get the idea. – And as I also make the stuff too, I don’t want to feel that –how come you’re getting all that support when you’re not that good and I’m better and I’m struggling – thing. I want to feel that – you’re bloody incredible I want to be that good and I’m going to keep struggling – thing.

One reason I am drawn to these two shows more than the British ones is the aesthetic, the actors’ craft, the stagecraft. A post-Grotowski post-Kantor aesthetic rather than a devised theatre imitating Forced Entertainment and Lone Twin cute style… Actors who have been training for hours every day for years to get to where they are physically and vocally, opposed to the standard fare of recent graduates who’ve never really done any kind of prolonged training, but have spent quite some time messing around with props.

to be continued…

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