Song of The Goat - Songs of Lear
Songs of Lear
I have a vision for what I love in theatre. I realised this by seeing it's opposite: Songs of Lear by Song of The Goat.
Theatre is not sacred
This is the most important choice, from this point everything diverges. The sacred is serious, heavy, meaningful, it contains the death of life that is ritual. Ritual is the loss of everything that makes us human: it is set, following a pre-designated path. Fixed in place it lack all vitality. I don't mean that the physical movements are fixed, more that the ideas behind the piece are set. As if they have searched for truth and found it already. They have an answer for us and not a question. Ritual is like a dry twig: hard, inflexible, dead, and easily broken.
To act as if theatre is sacred places theatre on an isolated pedastal away and above it's audience. Outside of life. It seeks to give it an authority which it does not need. To act as if theatre is sacred kills the humanity of the actors and the audience.
Skill is meaningless
Skill is an arms race towards boredom. There will always be someone better. Skill of itself only entertains on the most basic level: we might admire but we do not imagine. Perfected skill means nothing unless it is masked. Hidden inside a disguise the skill animates something we do not fully understand. If we see only skill then it is hollow: there are just the years you have spent perfecting it and we have nothing to spark our imagination. To hide your skill you put it inside a game on stage. If you play with the joy of a child and the skill of an adult then you have something truly beautiful.
Actors should not be certain
If you are good and you know you are good: you are not good. Because this certainty makes you bad. It is smug and ugly. Certainty places yourself above the audience you server. You say that you are better than them. How can you love an actor who preaches their vitues? Uncertainty is human, real, humble, searching, it makes an actor beautiful because it forces them to listen.
Actors should not be instruments
I want to see people who are fully alive, playing, full of vitality, confusion, joy. An instument does not move itself. It is worked upon. Alone it is dead. Perfect skill without the secret of life onstage makes the actor an instrument in the hands of the director. We see only his life, his vision through the actors he plays.
I do not want to see a beautiful collective, I want to see beautiful individuals working as a collective. A humanity like that is complex, unknowable, it sparks our imagination.
Actors should not play with their real emotions
When you broadcast your real emotions towards an audience you push yourself into their heads. This is unpleasant, counter productive, painful. We understand and feel real emotions directly, we empathise, we can even feel your pain. Your performance can only be seen as it is, not as we might imagine it to be. When you suggest an emotion through play, we see something we cannot fully grasp. When we cannot grasp it fully we imagine. The actor who does not play with their real emotions leaves a space which the audience fills with their own thoughts. This is transporting, delightful, beautiful theatre.
I disliked almost everything about Songs of Lear, yet of course it got a standing ovation. It deserves it. It is the pinnacle of a certain type of theatre. Which is no less valid than any other. It is an experiment towards meaning and connection and it is presented as such.
For me the only cast member who I could love was the one playing the musette de cour or baroque musette, a kind of bagpipe with bellows. For me he stood out because he was himself. He played an instrument without being one himself.
Photo: Karol Jarek