Western theatre is an inherently troubled art form because the execution detracts from rather than contributes to the overall meaning of the work. Thatís right. I did just say that.
First, you have all these men wearing this awful makeup, which makes them barely distinguishable from the women, which isnít saying much for either. No, Iím just kidding. I can tell them apart. Because Iím an expert. But the fact is these things have nothing to do with the story, and yet here we are talking about them. When Jack Nicholson makes a point of not shaving for his role in The Shining or Robert DeNiro gets fat for the second part of Raging Bull, itís because thatís the point of the storyónot so you can see him better from across the set.
- is uncomfortable in situations in which he or she is not the center of attention
- displays rapidly shifting and shallow expression of emotions
Next, especially in the odious case of Broadway, we have people shouting sweet nothings at each other. That every word and gesture must be given in this affected way, which calls attention to itself, just like the constant scampering on and off stage. Rather than making us forget itís all fake, weíre constantly reminded of it. F is for Funkadelic. This makes it harder to care deeply about the story itself. Itís like taking a professional basketball game andóoh, I donít knowóputting red lipstick on all the players and having them run around with pigeon feathers sticking out of their shorts. Itís the same game, only now itís quite silly. Makes me want to throw a cup at someone. Theatre is like a sporting event with a script, that you canít watch on T.V., and no one wins.
- shows self-dramatization, theatricality, and exaggerated expression of emotion
Then there is the bad dialogueóagain, Broadwayólike those parts where they talk really fast, over-enunciating their consonants and just rattling off a lot of words, often rhyming, badly. Itís like what if Eminem took himself seriously. Itís supposed to be impressive, but itís not. It probably requires less skill than you thinkóand frankly, I donít care how much skill it requires. If I spent 60 hours a week training to balance a tomato on my nose, I would still be a moron.
- interaction with others is often characterized by inappropriate sexually seductive or provocative behavior
- consistently uses physical appearance to draw attention to self
- considers relationships to be more intimate than they actually are
And theatre is not always bad because of bad stories. Aristophanes, Sophocles, Euripides, Bertolt Brecht. Beckett, Sartre, Chekhov. Shakespeare? Great writers all. But this is literature? And it can just as easily fall victim to any modern theatre troupe.
Donít get me wrong. I have nothing against the stage. But itís just that weíre missing something today. Look, if suddenly we ran out of cobalt blue, Iíd be saying the same about painting. But (thank god) we havenít.
And finally, one wordóNathan Lane.
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