Monday, October 29, 2007

Give Us Your Hands

Sit with me in the theatre one evening, and you will find me a polite and attentive theatre-goer. I will do my best to suspend my judgements till the final curtain. Once we get to the end, however, you may find me somewhat disgruntled, regardless of my opinion of the show. It's those damn bows. I speak of no company or production in particular - the culprits know who they are. (Pause)

I have set out to find the origins of this strange theatre-custom. I have even employed the services of a reference librarian (we're related). We haven't come up with much, so much of the following rant is educated speculation. If you find better sources to the contrary, please elaborate. (Resume)

The OED defines curtain-call as "a call by an audience for an actor or actors to take a bow after the fall of the curtain." What this means, ladies and gentlemen, is that the AUDIENCE, not the actors, are supposed to lead curtain call. Anything else is self-indulgent, ego-massage.

Bowing is (again according to the OED) "a token of respect, reverence, submission." Until the beginning of the last century, actors were considered no better than criminals, so to play before ANYONE they had to show respect, reverence, and submission to their betters. In fact, actors would bow to the audience before every scene, in a sense asking permission to speak.

There is little acknowlegement of the humility of the custom in the self-congratulatory prancing I see more than I would care to remember. I am not suggesting that we should return to those days of gratiutous self-deprecation. To bow more than the audience asks you to is self-indulgant and rude - clapping hurts.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Turg Talk: an Introduction

I wouldn't call myself a technophile, but I don't fear it either. This idea of "blogging" has lingered long enough that even household pets seem to be able to express their most superficial thoughts, so why can't I? If you know me in the actual world, you know I have a fairly strong opinion about somethings, like the city of Boston and the state of American Theatre. Perhaps a blog is an ideal place to share them.
I see a fair amount of theatre, but I am not so interested in "reviewing plays," per se. Rather, I would like to use current plays, articles or trends as a jumping off point for discussion about what is right (and wrong) about Contemporary American Theatre. I hope you will engage in debate. A civilized exchange of ideas is hot.