Monday, 28 December 2015

Religion in Schools. A dialogue

Turpidius: But my dear Criticulous, surely this argument can apply to other belief systems? Why, they even had a piece on Sky News about paganism

Criticulous: As far as I am concerned, you could put Satanism in the curriculum. If they looked at the various versions in the USA, it might provide some gentle comic relief to the subject. 

Turpidius: Yet does not your open ended definition remove something of the role of religious education - the teaching of virtue?

Criticulous: It has been pointed out that religion is not the only locus of moral teaching. But, and there must be exceptions, schools lack the ontology to be effect in moral education. 

Turpidius: For sooth, sire, start not upon ontology again. For its gives me the mightiest of headaches when you try to display your limited understanding of the topic.

Criticulous: My friend, are you merely that headache or the combination of circumstances that express that headache?

Turpidius: Seriously, stop it.

Criticulous: You force me to be brief. I shall merely say that 'a school' is merely the apparatus of the state whereby the young are indoctrinated into the cult of the nation. Its primary function is to enable the individual to enter into society.

Turpidius: But what of critical thinking? Is that not a part of the school?

Criticulous: Only if the state encourages such thinking. I would hazard that it does, in so far as it reflects a capitalist model of entrepreneurial intention.

Turpidius: Here we go again. 

Criticulous: Regardless of my own religious or theological beliefs, I think anything that emphasises school as a place of learning is positive. And given that religion is a part of culture, it ought to be approached from that angle, not as evangelism.

Turpidius: What about in religious schools, eh?

Criticulous: They can start from the assumption that their religion is true, and encourage pupils to be part of the dialogues within that religion. Look, the kids are there already, banging on about the basic facts again and again is not education. It's not even effective evangelism, if that's what they want.

Turpidius: So how does your opinion feed into the government's latest commandment?

Criticulous: It probably doesn't.


Religion in Schools; Let Humanism in!

The story so far

A random quote from the humanist association, and a statement by Nicky Morgan (education minister) that Britain is  a Christian country is challenged for being vague and slippery, and not any kind of foundation for decision making.

Coming Next
A spirited defence of the inclusion of humanism as a religious system.

The Humanist Association is correct: they represent a religious philosophy, and belong on the religious studies' syllabus. It is arguable, but this usually revolves around defining religion as having something to do with 'belief in God'.

Let me introduce you to the Dalai Lama.

Buddhism can be an atheistic religion. I define religion as 'a set of shared beliefs about the universe, and humanity's relationship to it, often characterised by a series of rituals'. It's necessary components are community, gathering together and a set of ideas (which are open to internal debate) that are considered worthy of discussion. 

Atheists who say that atheism is not a religion are right: a simple disbelief in God lacks these elements. Humanism,
yeah, that clears it up
however, offers rituals to replace Christian (or Buddhist) sacraments. It also has an affiliation strategy, just like Islam or Hinduism.

Whether Humanism has a critical mass of members, which would ensure its inclusion in schools, is another matter. But I don't care about that right now. I see a very clear case for Humanism as a religion.

Of course, an examination of the religion's history would identify its roots in Renaissance Christianity - Erasmus, those guys. A great essay question would be: How far can Humanism be understood as an attempt to express Christian values without God?

Religion in Schools: what means this 'is'?

British Humanist Association chief executive Andrew Copson said: All the usual contemporary justifications for the teaching about religions in schools ... logically also apply to the teaching of humanism.

Before I became the cult staple and voice in the wilderness, I taught in four schools - one was explicitly religious, the others promoted a form of Christianity that managed to justify the school rules, from uniform to a particularly odd piece about the appropriate distance between male and female pupils.

Guess which one was the most comfortable experience for me - even though, as it happens, I did not share its religion. Turns out that I did share the values, though.

And so, in order to keep our attention on the hard work of the state to control our minds, the education minister has made a statement. Apparently, it includes the idea that Britain is a Christian country...

At the risk of suggesting that the media reports contain an anti-religious bias, the statement that Britain is anything can be a fine example of dumbing down. Dumbing down often gets associated with the Disney versions of fairy tales becoming prominent, but here the use of the word 'is' becomes the problem. 

It doesn't mean anything much.

It could be that Christianity holds the dominant position in our state structures - it does have a bunch of bishops in the House of Lords.

It could be that the state and the legislature evolved during a period when Christianity held the affiliation of the majority, and reflect certain values and beliefs.

It could be that more people affiliate to Christianity than other religions.

It could be that Britain mirrors the Islamic State, in being a theocracy defined not by The Koran but The Bible.

But is? Too vague, too broad. 

Going back to my own experience in an explicitly religious school - look, it was a Jesuit school, and we all know how hardcore the Jesuits are - the majority of students easily dropped religious belief by the time they hit puberty. And that's even in an environment built around regular masses, propagandist religious studies and every single piece of work having AMDG at the top of the page. 

School is a relatively poor location for 'indoctrination', if that's the worry. If anything, adding in my experience of other schools, there's no better way of destroying interest in a subject by adding it to the curriculum.

I mean, Shakespeare is pretty good, but how many teenagers hate it? 

Okay, that's anecdotal. With that level of research, I could be a columnist on The Times. Or a politician.

Is Humanism a Religion?

Thursday, 24 December 2015

My TV Guide.

A very special blasphemy...

The Queen's Speech

In keeping with the spirit of Christmas, I won't be sending any cards this year: I've just bunged a couple of quid to some charity so I don't have to bother writing and sending a bunch of generic greetings. And I can tell you that I gave to charity instead, and you can bask in my generosity, knowing that the gap on your mantelpiece is actually paying for some dog-food or something!

However, I realise that this might disappoint some people, so I'm reviving another Yuletide tradition: the annual report from the family, photocopied and slipped inside a Christmas card, full of details about how amazing my family is, and all the cool things we did in the past year. 

Only I don't have a family, so it'll be the fragmented selves that torture my daily life with their nihilism, suppressed violence, frustrated desire and existential despair!

Happy Winterval!

I thought it might be nice to offer a selection of cards, so you can cut out and keep them. If you want. Not really too bothered at this point.

Anyway, it's been an amazing year for the Vile Arts! Our chief critic and primary consciousness (not forgetting his physical manifestation) was homeless for two months at the end of the summer! 

Not only did this give Gareth the chance to tell everybody about his situation, it led to some hilarious misunderstandings with members of the Revolutionary Communist Party, who insisted that he wasn't really homeless - in much the same way as they aren't really serious about smashing the state! Quipped GKV: 'it just goes to show that I'll never really be destitute, just as long as I don't conform to some hideous stereotype of poverty!'

This did have a happy ending though: Gareth has been admitted to study at Glasgow University. Although his thesis concerns comic books and theatre, he's out-sourced some of the workload to other members of the Vile Collective. Consequently, Mad Cyril has submitted a first draft of All Dramaturgs are Bourgeois: Conversations between Diderot and a Lap Dancer

Speaking of Mad Cyril, we're delighted that his series in Japan - Gor Blimey - has been recommissioned for a second series! After he got banged up for a few months - don't worry, Yewtree wasn't involved! - Cyril became a celebrity in the Far East, with images of him throwing a bin through a sushi shop window making the national news! 

Anyway, Cyril got his own show out of it: based on that Channel 4 racist classic, Banzai, it encourages viewers to gamble body parts on the outcomes of a series of competitions. The highlights of the last season included a whelk eating contest, a 'who loves their mum the most' shoot out (with Babs Windsor and Katie Price as the mums, no less!) and a Feed the Japanese Mick Jagger Lookalike with Mushrooms phone-in! 

We even got Shaun Ryder to do some indents, saying bits out of Performance. Rumour has it that Guy Ritchie wants the film rights.

Stay tuned for more news (or check out YouTube to see Mad Cyril's trailer for season two, which features lots of flashing colours, psychedelic flying dustbins and Cyril's catchphrase Do You Want To Get Sucked In).

Criticulous, meanwhile, has been keeping a low profile. With The Vile Arts going academic, he's been locked in the CCA cleaning cupboard until he can explain what research as practice means.

He did manage to escape for a couple of appearances though: who can forget his routine on The Limmy Show? Apparently, even though he just stared at the camera and explained how he was rejecting existentialism on the grounds that having a body was a form of essence and therefore its humanistic manifestos were inherently contradictory, no-one seemed to notice it was him and not one of Limmy's sketches!

Apparently one BBC producer said that he might as well take over the writing for the entire series, since Limmy was still trading on the goodwill from his old on-line videos, and they were squeezing his comedy into a medium that undermines its humour already! 

Criticulous is already promising an epilogue to his Trilogy, although his original concept - an intimate performance that is a mimetic version of a date - has been rejected by Creative Scotland and around seventy-six women he asked in the CCA in one evening!

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Post Panto Depression

I've been reviewing pantomimes for about ten years. Before that, my nan used to be a chaperone for a pantomime (keeping the celebrity away from the young dancers, possibly). As a child, I would be taken to pantomime every year, as well as The Nutcracker. I saw that one off Terry and June doing the dame one time at Watford Palace Theatre.

I got into criticism because of my love for contemporary dance. I am a pseudo-intellectual who loves difficult work that probably upsets my mother, and allows me to ponder and pontificate. And when I see a dubious subtext in a script, I jump on it and moan. I give it the old post-modern reading, the intersectional analysis, blame and bully.

And I've let pantomimes get away with it. Let's do a couple of caveats, before I get into it.

This isn't the fault of the companies
Mostly: there are a few productions out there that are lazy, and are more than willing to roll out the celebrity star, the bad script and the lazy ensemble. But these generally do get called out: criticism is very good at identifying these problems.

And not all pantomimes are guilty
There are notable exceptions, which have fun with the format, subvert the narrative and show an awareness that this is the twenty-first century, not 1974.  

But now, I present: the problems of pantomime!

This usually gets worse when there is an attempt to deconstruct or subvert the role of the prince: finding a modern equivalent only emphasises class structure. 

Actually, I'm not saying I mind the monarchy - I don't think about them that often.  They are pretty much a minor detail in British politics - yes, you can argue if you like, but maybe do something about the voting system first. 

Anyway, the real establishment these days is celebrity. And don't pantomimes just encourage that?

I don't mind seeing The Krankies crank out their routines -

the little one is pretty funny, and the big one can laugh at himself. I don't even mind John Barrowman: he's an all singing, all dancing show man. But The Hoff kinda ruins it. 

Admittedly, Scotland isn't so bad on this: most of its pantomime stars are actually talented actors. Katie Price. however, probably isn't, and I reckon Frank Bruno is still making a fool of himself somewhere at Christmas. Know what I mean, Harry? 

He's a ramblin' Man

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Wow. Somebody's bitter.

High Concepts and Low Morality

When Vice said that Martin Shkreli was claiming that his market manipulating antics are performance art, it was too good to be true. He did do an interview in which he achieves the apparently impossible - making him appear even more hateful - and between sounding like a teenage boy who has listened to a bit too much hip-hop and is threatening his Latin teacher for giving him a low grade, Shkreli refers to his financial activity as selling drugs (see what he did there? Gangster to the max, bro'). And there's this gem.

It makes you wonder what art is. To me, what I’m doing right now in the media, raising prices, all this shit, believe what you want, but it’s interesting. It gets people talking. At the end of the day, that’s what art is.

Thank goodness that discussion's over. It's been a struggle to get a clear definition of art - there has even been attempts to define assassination as performance art.  Shkreli avoids the nitty-gritty of specific forms and contexts, and sees it in terms of its consequences: it gets people talking. Like Star Wars.

Let's assume he is right, and this isn't just a desperate attempt to justify his willingness to make cash money off suffering. 

His behaviour actually reads more like a patron's position: he's got the loot, he spends it on art, and there is no obligation for a patron to be a good person or have any taste. I mean, Cesare Borgia, right?

My new pal Diderot would probably agree. In his treatise in defence of his (badly received) plays, he sees the role of theatre in a social context. He's weaponising theatre to make it a tool for bourgeois revolution, so he wouldn't mind The Shkrel's big wallet bragging. 

In fact, his description of the genius - extreme sensibility and moments of calm, even cold, action - is mirrored in that DX interview. Anyone who reacts to RZA's dissing by waving a metaphorical pistol, but can also raise prices on a product that is essential to the survival of the customer is totally a gangster, and conforms to Diderot's definition of genius.

Then there's the precedent of Marina Abramovic. Once upon a time, she did some intriguing art, examining the nature of gender, desire, the boundaries of art itself. Now she tries to make the green off her own myth. Grant Morrison (off comics) said that making money in Hollywood is a form of magic. 

And despite Shkreli's dubious assertion that there hasn't been a really rich rapper, his mate Jay-Z does something similar. Oh yeah, he completely used Abramovic. It's making sense.

Then there is Kanye West. Anita Sarkeesian has something to say - it did get people talking, didn't it? Although I encourage the belief that it is the interpretation rather than the art that generates meaning, allowing Kanye's Monster video to operate as a critique of objectification rather than a celebration, I have sympathy with her position. 

So yeah, I think Martin is totally doing art. There isn't a genre for it yet - performance art would be a place-holder label. It's great that he has kept going with the act: getting arrested gets people talking, and he's introduced an element of comedy into a serious narrative. I mean, it got people laughing when he got nabbed for fraud. There's even a sense of natural justice, the wicked getting punished. 

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Criticulous Composes a Love Letter


Brett Easton Ellis on Evolution or Something

Theatre is a Big Bunch of Lies

War on the Hoff

Little Nemo in Racistland

Pantomime. It's sexist.

Craig Glover as Widow Twankey and Lee Samuel as Wishee Washee
So... in my review of Peter Pan at the SECC, I pass remark upon the costumes of the female dancers. They seem to have come from the same wardrobe that produces all those 'sexy' versions of racial stereotypes during Halloween (the ones that end up with academics getting shouted at, resigning and so on).

Apart from the irony that the internet goes nuts about the cultural appropriation and objectification when individuals do it at parties for one night, and very few people say anything during the pantomime season when most Peter Pan pantos present 'Red Indians' on stage, there's the additional irony that, as someone who is more than happy to defend lap-dancing and women wearing revealing outfits on Sauchiehall Street (freedom of employment, freedom of expression but I wish they'd at least have a warm coat for after the club, respectively) is complaining that the costumes at the SECC are too revealing and objectify the dancers. 

But there it is. 

Fortunately, Natasha Tripney, a more respected critic, has covered similar ground in The Stage, so this isn't just another Vile voice in the wilderness session. Sexism is turning up all over the pantosphere... but I don't think Tripney goes far enough in her condemnation. She is a moderate, at least compared with what I am about to say.

If I can, I'll throw in some Diderot while I am at it.

Pantomimes are for children
I hope that this is true, because the simplicity of their plots, weak scripts and dumb jokes really don't past muster as mature theatre. I am aware that there are good pantomimes (yes, relative term, but I generally respect Johnny McKnight's efforts and have had a fairly good time at the Kilmarnock pantomime, where Liam Dolan's rapport with the local crowd saves some lazy, habitual routines). But this year, Glasgow has presented some poor efforts - sometimes redeemed by the hard work of the ensemble - and this goes beyond pantomime into the seasonal shows aimed at families.

In this context, dancers in skimpy outfits (I think this is called 'something for the dads') is inappropriate. Women on stage are glamorous - if not quite role models - but having them show a load of flesh doesn't help affirm their value as talented performers but as sexually appealing objects. While it might help certain adolescents discover sexual desire, in the context of a simple morality tale - in which surface is more important than depth - it just adds to the
cultural pressure for women to conform to a stereotype. 

In the case of Peter Pan, depicting the 'Red Indians' as a bunch of warriors who can't speak in proper sentences just adds to the problem, It's intersectionally offensive.

It could be argued that David Hasselhoff's pitiful performance undermines ideas of masculine competence, but I have the feeling that The Hoff isn't aware that he has the charisma of a black-hole, and his jokes about 'missing the boobies' on Baywatch aren't a tragic mockery of mid-life crisis. 

Pantomimes are subversive
No, they are not. 

The only subversive pantomimes that I have seen are Johnny McKnight's and the one at the Oran Mor, Ali Bawbag. And they are subversive because they reject traditional pantomime scripts, and play heavily with gender and politics, respectively.

I understand that English pantomime has the potential for gender subversion, what with the principal boy being a girl, the dame being a man and all but... that is not necessarily the Scottish pantomime way. There's less likelihood of, as Viz elegantly put it, of 'regrettable incidents in the bedroom after the show, when the dad has certainly not been aroused by the sight of a principal boy kissing the principal girl'. 

Mary Brennan, The Herald's dance critic, who sees an heroic/insane number of Christmas shows every year, told me that lack of money in Scottish theatre during the 1960s led to the evolution of a pantomime more rooted in vaudeville. Rather than splashing out on a big name, who'd draw crowds in the absence of any other reason, they would feature artists, like Stanley Baxter, who used their variety skills. This tradition continues to this day, albeit with those artists now stars in their own right - like The Krankies.

The other thing is that principal boys are rare. The current prince in Glasgow King's Snow White is a bloke who can sing well but acts like he is reading his script from notes hidden in his sleeve in a language he doesn't speak. Peter Pan has a bloke on the aerial wires. Neither play has a dame. Gender confusion happens now and again (Mcknight, again, likes the dressing up box, and Dolan works with a dame most years, but...). It's rare.

With that potential subversion out of the way, what's left? A story that usually follows Victorian virtues, in which good defeats evil and it ends with a marriage. Female characters who are rewards and passive, maybe the odd sexy villain. If Anita Sarkeesian ever gets bored with gaming, she can use pantomime for the next series of Tropes versus Women.

Panto is normative. It's pretty much a sign of how acceptable a thing is by the way it can be mentioned in pantomime. John Barrowman did plenty of cheeky asides about his sexuality, and they had nary a whiff of self-pity, but celebrated a virile homosexuality. I liked that, and the laughter confirmed that the pantomime audience did too. As society becomes more tolerant, the potential for subversion is lessened. 

The moral message of the story is never subverted: and this is where I get to mention Diderot. Diderot majored on the idea that theatre had a potential for presenting bourgeois values, and the values of, say, Aladdin, are all about the bling and the cash. Dear Lord, it's a parable of the entrepreneur breaking into the aristocratic power structure.

Pantomime is working class theatre
Why are the dame and the baddie usually the best characters, or possibly Buttons or Wishy-Washy or the 'comedian' role? Because they are the last bits of pantomime that recall the burlesque tradition. 

The bad-guy is usually giving it the Oliviers, all Shakespearean diction and this is beneath me. He's a mockery of theatre's pretensions to high art.

The comedian is the MC.

The dame is a drag act, so can do a bit of gender subversion, although I know this can be a problem. Can I talk about that later?

But the rest of them: bunch of power-wielding bourgeoisie, the kind but firm father, the girl defined only her marriage (and her 'revolutionary' desire to marry the man she loves is just a bourgeois myth replacing the aristocratic myth of her dowry value), the prince with egalitarian ambitions... actually, I am going to do an entire post on Diderot and pantomimes.

Bet you can't wait.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015


Hey, it's that time of year when I make resolutions that I have no intention of keeping. Instead of smoking and drinking and taking drugs - funnily enough, the only thing I've managed to actually give up in the past five years is sex, and that was no resolution just an inevitable consequence of my attitude, looks and poor hygiene - I'm going to tell a few things I love to get tae fuck.

Yep, this'll be a challenge for someone who works in criticism and  is doing a PhD in dramaturgy. But honestly, theatre's just a bourgeois weaponisation of performance, which uses the human desire to watch to indoctrinate audiences with the values of the dominant culture.

See, I read Diderot and I realised that the philosophers of the Enlightenment developed an intellectual foundation for the revolution against the monarchy. It's like what happened in the 1970s: when most politicians were happy with the post-war consensus (featuring such wild ideas as The NHS is a good idea and it's probably worth having social security), a bunch of extremists got together in think-tanks and worked out the Big Idea that would later become Thatcherism.

Diderot did the same thing, making up ideas like 'the genius', 'naturalism' and 'engaged theatre'. Until someone comes up with a new set of ideas (and Brecht does not count, son), theatre will continue to dance to the tune of capitalism. 

Aware as I am of the power of the patriarchy as a distorting force within both male and female lives, and the necessity of confronting the casual sexism that belittles us all as human beings, I'm not doing feminism unless it is accompanied by an adjective.

While I can't think of anything worse than becoming either a MRA or a Red Pill fruit-loop, feminism is not a catch-all that justifies shouting at academics or poor research. It's not that I deny the importance of a continued movement towards equality, or the brilliant work done by many activists: it's just that the internet has turned feminism into a playground for angry shouting and I'd rather support specific issues and people than align with a general ideology that has some disappointing spokespeople.

I am deeply indebted to Marx's dialectic process, and respect the changes socialism has encouraged in the UK (back to the NHS again). Having said that, socialism seems to be angry all the time, lacks a sense of its own history and... sorry, that socialists. Socialism is not a snake oil that will cure all of society's ills...

Hang on a minute, I sense a theme here.. it's not the idea that I dislike, it's the people who espouse them... am I blaming them for failing to live up to the abstract standards of their beliefs?

It is supposed to be a scientific and rational approach to the Universe, not a bunch of loud mouths dealing with daddy issues. Note again: gap between intentions and advocates.

They are such a drag, man.  


Star Wars is Back...

I like Star Wars and I can not lie

You Trekkies can't deny

That on Boxing day we'll be in the huge queue

And a big smile on my face

I get sprung

Wanna buy that stuff

Like a bag of farts I want to huff.

I'm hooked and I can't stop watching

Oh, Jar Jar, I wanna get with ya

And pretend you never happened

The critics tried to warn me

But that director's cut

Make Me so horney

Ooh, Leia in a slave kit,

Chewbacca shouting out to Han,

Well use me use me 'cause the prequels were utter shit.

I've seen them in CGI

What I consume makes I

It's Lens Flare

Got it goin like a X-Wing Jet

I'm tired of magazines

Saying Tarkovsky is the thing

Take the average geeky fan

and ask him that

It's gotta pack Darth and Luke.

So Fellas (yeah) Fellas(yeah)

Have your tickets for the front (hell yeah)

Well queue up, queue up, queue up, queue up, queue in your cos-play!

The Force is back

(LA face with crappy effects)

I like Death Stars round and big

And when I'm throwin a gig

I just can't help myself

I'm actin like an ewok chief

Now here's my rebel beef.

I wanna get you home

And watch you on DVD

I aint talkin bout Star Trek boys

I bought up all the toys

I want 'em real rare and costly

So kids can't afford to buy 'em

Criticulous's in trouble

Beggin for a piece of that bubble

So I'm lookin' at YouTube videos

Knockin these vloggers who talk the trash

Saying that the Phantom Menace sucks

I'll keep my sci-fi like Vader

A word to the other cult scene

I ain't gonna buy your zine

I won't cus or hit ya

But I gotta be straight when I say I wanna dis ya

Til the break of dawn

Solo Got it goin on

A lot of geeks won't like this song

'cause them punks like hard cyber style

But I'd rather ignore plot gaps

And less realism than an X-File

And I'm down to get metachlorins on

So ladies (yeah), Ladies (yeah)

Do you wanna roll in my Tie Fighter(yeah)

Then turn around

Stick it out

Even Whovians got to shout

Star Wars is back

(LA face with the all new effects)

Yeah baby

When it comes to fiction

Roddenberry ain't got nothin to do with my selection

Star Date 1966

Ain't got Leia's hips...

So your girlfriend watches X-Factor

Playin Matrix sequels that ya hacked her

But Cowell ain't got a Grand Moff on his panel

My anaconda don't want none unless you've got Lando

You can do Vulcan Peace Signs, but please don't forget Obi Wan

Some brothers say that Mulder's the Man

And tell you that the science's off

So they toss it and leave it

And I pull up quick to retrieve it

So critics says you're dated

But my love for Luke is fated

'cause the script is poor but the fights are kickin

And I'm thinkin bout stickin

To the exaggerated dames in the comic books

You aint it miss Thing

Give me a plot with a single sister

A single woman, blink and you'll miss her!

Some caknucklehead tried to dis

'cause X-Men aren't on my list

Cyclops had game but he ain't Darth Maul

Avengers II dropped the plot idiot ball

So what if the story was done

On the run and left an incest subtext

I'll buy in to this media machine and consume the lot,

Star Wars got back

Star Wars got back

Little shit in tha middle but now it got much back

A Phrase so Good, I Stole It...

Monday, 14 December 2015

García: 4 @ Next Festival

“Junkspaces”, this is what architect Rem Koolhaas in his essay of the same name called the soulless, uniform spaces in which we are moving more and more often these days. Shopping centres, airports, conference halls...they've all become so superficial and similar to each other that we have lost an important aspect of human creativity in them, according to Koolhaas.

In his new performance 4, the world-famous Argentinian director Rodrigo García investigates with his company Humain Trop Humain from Montpellier how architecture and use of space influence the human being. What's more he also uses a quote by Rem Koolhaas (about modern cities) as subtitle for his own performance : “Incredible adventures for the brain, the senses and the erogenous zones.” Quite promising...

4 is probably the most offensive piece of theatre that I have seen in some time. Some audience members got upset at the sight of chickens in tiny shoes, getting shoved down one guy's trousers and being placed atop a guitar as another guy rocked out. Other audience members were a bit shocked by the two young girls dressed up like they were in the Minipops. Others walked out when an audience member was bundled into a sleeping bag and interrogated about her sex life.

Most of the audience had a jolly laugh, which suggests most of the audiences are fucking idiots.

García is clearly up to some heavy provocative shit: I'm still wondering whether I ought to have pulled an Audience on the show (for new readers, this refers to the time I lobbed a shoe at the stage during a performance, then had a big row with the actor). In the case of the chickens, far worse stuff happens in slaughter-houses, and it's a pretty easy game for García: upset by the mistreatment of animals are we? Then go vegan, schmuck. And by the way, my actors are about to ignore a woman's 'no' and dry hump her on stage. Fancy getting worked up by that, eh?

Because I didn't follow the words (performed in Spanish, French subtitles, and my French is all about pommes sur ordinateurs and le cheval dort at the moment). I missed much of what the show was about. So I got my share of horror from the two girls...

So, they doll them up all sexy like, get them on-stage where they do a dance - yes, it's the sexualisation of pre-teens - and then one of the cast encourages them to pose in front of a video screen. It's like watching grooming in action (and since these are real young girls and since it is unlikely they really understand what is happening, or if they do they have been made aware of a horror and that's just as bad and...).

Okay, it comments on the way that women are made into objects when they are still girls (questions of agency arise, but these are two girls who look very young, they don't get agency in the way, say, a teenager might)... but grooming is exposed as a process that makes abuse look like it is fun... hey, everybody, we are having a party! 

I still don't know what to think. 

Poetry! On Diderot and Aristotle and All That

It's time for a poem, some rhymes to unpick
What's bothering me and making me kick
Out at the arts that provide me with work.
I feel at my core I'm a tedious jerk.

Put aside subtext (that's probably clear
That there's been heartbreak for genius here)
And look at the facts.
Vile is struggling with performative acts.

It started when Diderot first came to my sight.
He was writing of politics, how theatre can fight
To change values, to present a case
For new sociability and capital's grace.

Now Diderot's plan, which goes down the ages
Was to adapt the drama for bourgeoisie stages.
He reacted against the traditions of monarchical times
Who liked some Greek Tragedy to occlude their crimes.  

Brecht, he adopted Diderot's intentions
To have a good nosey at social conventions.

In the East GDR, he found an ensemble
To frighten the right and make capitalists tremble.

The Poetics were dumped, the Unities trashed
To imagine theatre that could Tyranny smash.
But beneath the assumptions of staging and script,
Diderot's aim was subtly flipped.

Brecht used the idea - like Ibsen before him - 
That engaged theatre was a suitable forum
To offer and argue the radical choice
Giving the Man-in-the-Street a loud voice.

But artists don't care about wider concerns
They'll teach the crowd and the audience learns
Whatever it's told: there's no freedom here
Nor meaningful chat, just more pity and fear.

If you've got this far, you desire a reward
I've got some old CDs you can have for your hoard.
But cut to the essence and feel my defeat.
Theatre's performance's defined by elites.

A Portrait of the Critic as an Artist part 456



Sunday, 13 December 2015

First Review: Numina

NUMINA - This is the Way the World Ends *5.30pm*
(Paul Michael Henry, Alessandra Campoli, Alex Mackay, Steven Anderson)


Moving Pyramids // Strange Fruit // Tantric Dance // Overconsumption // Electronic Noise // Loss And Reversal // Bodies // Spinning Tops //

A Ritual Performance going through Butoh dance and noise hypnosis to see if we can’t feel what we’ve done.

I was a 1990s' Revolutionary. Why did it fail?

This is the End