We spent summers where my maternal roots are, the lower Nicola Valley in B.C. There I learned I already knew people who had first hand experience with having a child plucked from the universe. This place I regarded as idyllic and friendliest toward children - a cluster of Indian Reserves in the interior - was the crime scape for that greatest of horrors. I felt the world shift beneath my feet, and an obsession planted.
What is the point of doing these quickly thrown together works? What actual good is placing our political questions onto a stage? What is the actual point when there are people who directly and actively work to address injustice? Maybe Wrecking Ball is not for anyone else but our community. Maybe it is simply our time, our space to say fuck you.
Audiences don’t just come in the form of paid ticket holders; audiences aren’t just people who read an article in the newspaper; audiences aren’t only coming to see their favourite local “celebrity”. Audiences are those people too, of course, and we love them. But audiences are also the media, family and friends of artists, funders of all stripes, artists both past and present and, most importantly, volunteers.
Critiquing the behaviour of audiences at live performance is de rigueur in North America at present. I am of the mind this behaviour is fairly...
First of all audiences don’t come to the theatre (what the hell is wrong with them?) and when they do they don’t stay (why the hell didn't they just stay home?) and if they do come they let their phones ring (Is there no intelligence left in this world?) or worse, yet, they text! (I mean don’t they know they are not the centre of the universe?) What a bunch of jerks! Audiences are assholes! Like basically they don’t know how to do anything right anymore. What has happened to civilization?!
So, what is it that is really bothering us? Is it that our audiences want to talk? They want to communicate with one another? Is it that they want to bring electronics into the theatre? No. The real problem we are facing is not that our audiences want to bring technology into the theatrical space – it’s that by doing so, they are disengaging with the performance that is happening right in front of them. They are no longer a part of the show. And that’s not a problem with them – that’s a problem with us.
Who are the people in a performance process who have the ability to interpret and communicate while thinking on their feet? Who has a role in the creative process that is malleable enough to incorporate new practices and technologies? Who can write a blog post in an hour and distill a 3-minute-long comment into 140 characters? Dramaturgs.
Yes, reconciliation is difficult but the truth can also set us free so that the hard work of healing a country can also be joyful and meaningful. For me, the simplest way to do this is to engage with Aboriginal Peoples any way you can. So here's my 10 feelgood ways to make a better Canada.
In a 1967 television interview the Canadian visionary Marshall McLuhan said you’re the only country in the world that knows how to live without an identity. Echoing his sentiments somewhat, the poet Irving Layton said, “A Canadian is someone who keeps asking the question, ‘What is a Canadian?’” I think he was confusing Canadians with Dramaturgs but anyway, you get the idea.
Politicians eventually answer to political movements. When we speak about what the federal government can do for artists why are we not speaking the same language of anti-poverty activists or the trade labour movement? Why don’t fine arts majors ever participate in the student movement?