Conservatism in Theatre

12 Jul

What is conservatism?

It is the belief that all the important things have already happened and all the big decisions have already been made.*

It is the belief that the world is old and we are insignificant, and all that’s left for us to do is follow the path and observe the rules.

In theatre, one effect of conservatism is lazy and uninspired criticism.

Go to a piece of theatre with certain criteria to be met and you’re ignoring that the work itself may have no interest in your criteria.

In response to this overt conservatism, you’ll sometimes hear that a work should be allowed to set its own criteria of success. “What were you trying to achieve?” says the critic to the artist.

But I’m not sure that’s so very different. It assumes that what you experienced in the theatre is not the actual thing, but rather an attempt at the actual thing.

So where is the actual thing?

Ways of seeing that diminish the importance of the present deserve our distrust.

For everything that can be done, can only be done now.

Veronica Kaye

Theatre Red

* I have a feeling I’ve borrowed this line from somewhere, but I don’t know where.

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