Theatre lovers

September 28, 2014

In general the consensus on how to behave in the theatre died after the famous Dutch Actie Tomaat. Maybe I should be more precise and say before in stead of after, since those tomato throwing theatre lovers (often makers themselves) wouldn’t have been able to stretch out their arm and act the way they did. This sounds illogical, but the protest was a chain reaction, and the air was already filled with a true cosmic want for a dramatic change on stage to open up the receptive window that was only halfopen or even completely closed.
We say (and by we I mean us theatre lovers often makers) that we understand the significance of this historic deed of deeds. Poor tomato. Making a comeback on many other stages, during a multitude of era’s, often as a weapon, sometimes a festive tool celebrating fertility and life, it is today a pragmatic token in showing guys like Poetin that we mean bloody business. Examples can be given by anyone and please feel free to send me your finest example(s) of your or someone’s best or worst tomato throwing type of behavior.

Yesterday evening while visiting Het Veem Theater in eager anticipation of a presentation by dancer/choreographer Norberto Llopis Segarra, I witnessed someone in the audience losing it completely, a painful experience for everyone else present, working hard to understand what was presented, witnessing the work unfolding in silence. The one who lost it made it impossible for the rest of the ‘present’ ones to stay present. By filming himself with a mobile phone we were forced to become a witness of an angry kind of narcissism, and I am afraid this may be the same kind of rigid theatrical thinking the Actie Tomaat throwers were worried about and rebelled against.

Back to performer Segarra whose work is not easy to grasp, as are most works that manage to hoover on the verge of philosophy and abstract performative movement. Actually, this work is even more complex since it tries to crack the verge of this verge etcetera. Being in a safe place such as HVT and by ‘safe’ I mean safe enough for the daredevils diving the adventurous waves of the in-between to ‘do their thing’ and do it right, there’s a fine line between leaning back as an audience and leaning in relentlessly.

It is like learning a new language, and mastering this, stepping up your game, learning new codes, playing with old ones, offering others to join this art of learning in a courtyard that is still a safe place due to hard work of many avant-gardists who risked their all to make sure the courtyard can stay in existence while a lot of other structures (cultural ones, political) are deteriorating and will have vanished completely over time.

For an audience it is in a way a challenge to watch these gatekeepers go at it, being children in a way of the famous rebellions of the past, they sometimes have to pay a really high price for just doing what they do.