TBG joined me last week at the theatre for a play reading and discussion. The play was Saved by Edward Bond (1965) Royal Court Theatre and it was considered upon its release to be a ground-breaking “British realism and social class critique” type play about the lives of South London working class people.
I did go in wanting to be surprised by the play, I had no idea what it would be and did my best Saaf Londin accent for it… but what soon grew more interesting was covertly studying everyone.
There was a contingent of White, retired, liberal people, some students, some theatre staff in their mid to late thirties perhaps, and then TBG (early Thirties) and me. I’m used to being the only Asian in the room but I couldn’t help thinking that all the liberalism in the world couldn’t prevent a certain dominant interpretative viewpoint, surely? It began to make me feel that I really didn’t fit in. It became less about characters in the human condition and more socio-political discourse.
Does this more theoretical form of theatre have a place for me, if acting can’t be part of my life? I thought. Have I outgrown intellectualism? Does it even matter to me any more? I’m not going to get any dinner at this rate…
I desperately wanted a play to be PLAY TIME for grown ups. Even TBG’s Am-Dram sounds more like “fast-track coaching for your RADA audition.”
I mean, where has the passion gone? The people actively acting, doing and embodying and consciously (de)constructing language for performance?
There was one young man, (I can’t age people any more) who was very solidly built, in the way that Russell Crowe though lacking elegance, has a certain neatness to the muscular heft of him. He wore a dark green polo shirt and small, dark framed glasses. He looked like a uniformed gardener until he spoke and then he was eloquent, very assured, quite obviously came from money and often used the term ‘one’. Irksome.
He knew his stuff and referenced texts with the kind of ease that could well be beguiling if it didn’t also begin to piss me off. I couldn’t work out why, except that he seemed to be working the room entirely unchallenged. I didn’t particularly feel that was fair. We left.
“He doesn’t half like the sound of his own voice that guy…”
“Mr McGlasses Polo-Shirt.”
“Oh Pola, he was just passionate. He’s passionate about what he’s talking about.”
Later I dissected TBG’s insightful comment: God, was I ever that into something? I think I used to be, in the past, just overflowing with enthusiasm. Since when did I start thinking of ‘passion’ as ‘officiousness’? God, there’s no passion in my life… I haven’t written since December….
Is it a case of Passionate is as Passionate does? Or is Passion in the eye of the Beholder? I’m really struggling to frame a truism for this, and to see whether there’s some faculty I’ve lost, and by losing it, I’ve lost the ability to sense it in others: without being somehow offended by it. Is it not even Passion, but zest?
~ Pola ~