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October 6, 2008 | by  | in Theatre | [ssba]

Done To Death by Slanderous Tongue

Okay guys, bear with me while I try my hardest to make this final column good but not pretentious. Pretentious wrap-ups really fuck me off.

If you’ve read these pages from time to time throughout the year and enjoyed them, I’m glad I’ve done my job. If you didn’t read the pages, that’s all good coz you were probably going to the shows, seeing them for yourselves and making your own decisions about what’s good and what’s not. I mean, what the hell does a critic know anyway?

In fact, this question has been bugging me since I started and it still bothers me today. Why should we have critics? What’s their purpose, what’s their value?

I think that a critic needs to be an authority on theatre, but they’re defiantly not the boss of it. They are commentators and advisors. They should suggest and provoke, but they are not the be all and end all of what’s hot and what’s not. Theatre critics should help us think critically about theatre without being arrogant or preachy.

But what is it we’re trying to achieve by ‘thinking critically’? Why should we give two wanks about a piece of art or theatre?

Something I’ve discovered is that theatre, and all art, needs to have a purpose, and to have a purpose it needs to have a meaning. We’re all striving to find that show which ploughs the human condition and shows us something about ourselves. We all want to make that one piece whose qualities transcend its time. Good theatre should make us feel alive and compelled to feel something about life. Good art should give life a meaning, and a purpose.

And yet I wonder… perhaps art is just a validation of our humanity. There is no ‘truth’ to the human condition and in seeking to explore humanity, the result is actually a construction rather than an analysis.

I’ve been using this year to wrestle with these questions, but most importantly it has been my job to find something in a play which can be related to, and to share what I have found with you guys. I hope I’ve achieved this.

The theatre pages this year couldn’t have been run without the monumental help of Cherie, Ralph, Phil, Uther, Fiona C, Fiona M, Hannah, Jacob, Sandra, and Jenna. Good shit guys, you’ve helped me beyond measure at times when things have been a bit hairier for me than you know.

I’ll be keeping up with the reviews until the Chapman Tripp awards in December, so have a look at the Salient website from time to time and see what the haps are.

Stay cool, and go easy on the pot. Just keep it to the weekends.


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