Attempts On Her Life
Posted 14 March 2007 - 02:57 AM
Backdrifter I'm pretty sure you see more theatre than almost everyone, if not everyone, else on here and you are usually so positive. Thank you for suffering for my amusement.
Posted 14 March 2007 - 08:07 AM
A couple of years ago there were rumours she would direct Macbeth for Sam Mendes (as producer) - I would like to see that happen.
Posted 14 March 2007 - 08:13 AM
Didn't Martiin Crimp have something to do with this production? I think that's why I didn't book for it. The Crimp-factor has given me too many dire evenings in the theatre . My general attitude is rather like Backdrifter's, I'm up for off-beat and odd. I just hate pretentious, insulting nonsense or being bored to death. But those productions are rather fun to experience second hand, so thanks for the report.
Posted 14 March 2007 - 03:45 PM
Oh, he had something to do with it, alright - he wrote the damn thing. I couldn't really tell if there was anything decent buried beneath the Mitchellisms - maybe there was, but if so, what little there is or was has been Mitchelled to death.
Yes, my Crimp experience is building up into a mostly negative one. His take on the wonderful Trachiniae, which he renamed Cruel & Tender, was brain-meltingly tedious. He really did manage to drain all the life from it. But the critics loved it - Attempts is opening tonight; I wonder what the notices will be like.
Interesting that even a "big Mitchell fan" above disliked it. By the way Skylight, I did find myself reflecting on my own use of the word 'wank' in my comments. It's inappropriate, really - after all, wanking is meant to be a pleasurable experience.
Posted 14 March 2007 - 05:51 PM
"Interesting that even a "big Mitchell fan" above disliked it. By the way Skylight, I did find myself reflecting on my own use of the word 'wank' in my comments. It's inappropriate, really - after all, wanking is meant to be a pleasurable experience."
Yes, but not necessarily to watch...
Posted 14 March 2007 - 11:42 PM
Well, here is the good news for you. Those of you who decided to play Katie Mitchell Bingo in guessing which of her hallmarks would return in this show are all destined for good scores. This is, after all, a Katie Mitchell show. Some wag even said one of the guaranteed features was that Theatresquirrel would post a rave, and I'm pleased to report that you mister win tonight's top prize because here I am, poised to rave.
But the question remains.
Should I bother?
Well, here are my thoughts for you guys.
Once upon a time, this fella Aeschylus rocked up and invented this new form of entertainment called theatre in which people stood and pretended to be people who they actually weren't and said words that weren't truly their own. And my thinking is that probably at that time a group of other people somewhere said 'what is this? this isn't what we're used to. it's w*nk. what a preposterous load of nonsense - the idea that a bunch of people should stand before us - and always face us - and project their voices as they do - and make these speeches and have these dialogues - this is nonsense, it's not even so bad it's good, it's just bad, it's an embarrasment, life's too short for this b*llocks'.
I guarantee they said it. Or maybe more eloquently than that.
But somehow this very very stylised way of doing things took hold and grew.
I imagine a similar thing happened when Beethoven suddenly bunged a choir in a symphony (what w*nkery!) or when some pretentious git cooked up the notion of photos that move, I mean, fair enough, it must surely have beggared belief: pictures of people that actually move around...moving pictures... (what drivelliness).
But yet again, somehow...
If you get what I'm getting at, then I'm happy. If you don't, then I'm sorry. But it's about how art has a-l-w-a-y-s evolved and how we absolutely crucially rely on artists, we always have, to keep evolving things, because if the forebears of Katie Mitchell hadn't done the things above then you wouldn't have all the things you find natural and comfortable now. If Aeschylus hadn't pulled his finger out and done something horribly contentious and radical then we'd still be experiencing primeval culture now (whatever that may have been). And let me say this: Backdrifter, your trillion more visits to the theatre than any of the rest of us have been a little ill spent if you haven't bothered to look at how theatre (or any other art form) has evolved in its 2500 year existence. Or is now meant to be the time in which artistic evolution takes a break? Did I miss that information somewhere? (I do wonder actually if you've ever seen any Beckett in that time. Isn't that the pretentious gobbledigook you dismiss so instantly? If not, why not? Simply because it's older than you are? And yet, folks were saying all the same things about him when he was new that you've said about Mitchell. Billie Whitelaw stuck in a pot for two hours mumbling a load of incoherence? You know what this is, don't you mate.... it's w*nk.)
Attempts On Her Life is an experiment, but who ever said theatre wasn't the place for that? Not Aeschylus certainly, because his invention was an experiment, so don't for a moment tell me this is not legitimate theatre.
And what's more, from where I was sat (and funnily, there were none of these legion walkouts tonight) this show is a dazzling reflection of our lives now. Yes, it's a reflection in a funhouse mirror, but that's its point, and it has so much to show and tell. And ask.
Imagine if aliens came and peered down at all human life in the last 10 years. What do you think they would see? Organisation? Coherence?
This is precisely the perspective that Attempts On Her Life gives us of our existence.
The utter mania and insanity that we take as rote. It shows a world in which a group of people (call them the media) have decided to comment on every waking move of the world's inhabitants, so much so that they cannot stop themselves - they're discussing it when there's nothing to discuss, they're filming it when there's nothing to film, they're turning it into songs and television when there's no substance to do that with. And yet they do it and they do it and they just can’t help themselves.
I actually don't think I need to say anything more about the play than that.
That is what it is about. And that idea is carried home with more invention and irony and extraordinary craft than pretty much most things I've ever seen. Oh, and what the cast do is phenomenal. Just as in last year's Waves, their redefinition of what ensemble means is something to behold.
Okay, so it's some people's definition of w*nk. I guess that's the historical nature of pioneering new work. And I'm not denying anyone's right to dislike this show. That's fair enough. I certainly know people who wouldn't find it their cup of tea. Though I do object to Backdrifter's declamatory, sweeping denigration of its worth and intent.
If you're a theatre fan with an open mind and want to see something that has the complex consistency of a staged Radiohead song, or a staged David Lynch film, then go, please, and be confounded and dazzled and consternated and amazed. While the rest of you get your bingo cards out of your handbags and smugly tick the box that says of course Theatresquirrel would parrot all this because he just like Katie Mitchell zzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Posted 15 March 2007 - 12:00 AM
If you're a theatre fan with an open mind and want to see something that has the extraordinary consistency of a staged Radiohead song, or a staged David Lynch film, then go, please, and be confounded and dazzled and consternated and amazed. While the rest of you get your bingo cards out of your handbags and smugly tick the box that says of course Theatresquirrel would parrot all this because he just like Katie Mitchell zzzzzzzzzzzzz.
That was me.
As for should you bother? Well yes of course you should. I've read what you've written because I'm interested in opposing views. I can't comment on the show as I haven't see it, yet, but it strikes me as rather presumptuous to categorise anyone who doesn't like this work as being whatever the opposite is of pioneering and open-minded - reductive, conservative maybe? If you participated in board discussions rather than just posting your reviews you'd know that Backdrifter sees most shows around (including plenty of new/radical/pioneering work). Disliking something does not mean that one has failed to grasp the nature/intent of the work or that one is limited in one's outlook. If you haven't done so already you may find Jan's "a warning from history" thread worth a read.
Posted 15 March 2007 - 09:36 AM
And as for your spiel about the evolution of theatre... dear oh dear. Thankfully, I'm able to enjoy about 90% of what I see without having "bothered to look at how theatre (or any other art form) has evolved in its 2500 year existence". It's really coming to a sorry stage when your Mitchell-worshipping reaches such a pitch that this is the sort of thing with which you respond to those who dislike her work. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but you appear to be suggesting that a piece like this Attempts production is evidence of the continuing evolution of theatre, and that my comments show I'm opposed to, and/or ignorant of, this process. Is that what you're saying? Because if it is, the irony is that this production is the exact opposite. That's one of my major problems with it - it's de-evolution. It's a kind of insult to the evolution of theatre, mixing techniques and devices and ingredients like a child's attempts at cookery. It does this in a mistaken belief that it's artistry, whereas in fact it's just taking elements of theatre, throwing them in the air, letting them land on the floor and just leaving them there. In terms of this idea of 'evolution', it's like some mad geneticist has scrambled genes from various species and created an ugly useless slug-like creature. That's not evolution, that's just retrograde messing-about with no positive result - exactly what this production is.
"Pioneering"? Well, you are of course free to like this production for whatever reasons of your own but when you say it's pioneering we're beyond the realms of opinion and you are simply wrong. Yes, I agree, those theatre forms and other art forms you mentioned and we now accept probably did cause outrage and bafflement at the time. But to compare that process to this production is so far beyond ludicrous there's no word for it. I love to see something new, I want to be wrong-footed and surprised and even baffled by something I don't fully get, but where I can see there's something new and strange and exciting going on. But there is none of that in Attempts - nothing new or pioneering whatsoever. It's old hat, a mere jumble of tried and tested stuff parading itself as "new" or forward-looking but it's just a flimsy facade.
A "theatre fan with an open mind" - that's precisely what I am. But you seem to be saying that, having not liked this, I can't be. Do you really, honestly think that? If so - what a shame.
Posted 15 March 2007 - 10:20 AM
That said, Skylight, I am sorry if I've not conformed to the rules of how to interact and participate on this site. Tell me where those rules are and I'll get reading them.
And Backdrifter, well I didn't hope to enamour you with what I wrote so I understand your response. But I didn't say you weren't open-minded for not liking it. I just thought your initial report wasn't open-minded. You can accuse me of not reasoning why it's a good show but at least I do offer a very fair account of what this play is aiming to say about our times and what makes that special, whereas you largely just said it was 'wank' and drivel' and 'bollocks' and 'crap' over and over - and moreover used other members of the audience's reactions to substantiate this rather than pretty much anything that happened on stage, save for the bit about Kate Duchene's feet. If that's your way of reasoning something then so be it, but it's not mine.
In response to your latest post, I'd also like to propose that what you reject as "de-evolution" is a central part of evolution, especially in art. By your rationale, what Wagner and Mahler and Schoenberg did to major and minor keys (releasing music from such cages) was "de-evolution". What Monet and Matisse and Picasso and Derain did to precise formal painting was "de-evolution" because they went and jumbled all the bits up. What Joyce and Beckett did to prose was "de-evolution" because they stopped formalising sentences in the same old old way and - ouch - threw all the words up in the air. Like children.
Peace and love,
Posted 15 March 2007 - 10:36 AM
I'm going to leave the theatrical response to Backdrifter because he's doing it so much better than I am but, randomly quoting major artists from various genres does not provide an analysis of why you like KM and/or this production. You do not need to tell us that so and so did such and such to music/ art/ theatre: a) you're over simplifying (since when were Wagner and Schoenberg and Joyce and Beckett doing the same thing?) and b ) we are familiar with major creative artists. You seem to be suffering a little from Katie Mitchell syndrome of overlooking your audience.
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