Jul 27, 2007

The Manifesto for a Revolutionary Theatre

(A rather silly idea I've had brewing for a little while now, though hats off to anyone who would actually have the cojones to do it... I wonder what would happen...)

The revolutionary war is a war of the masses; it can be waged only by mobilizing the masses and relying on them. (Mao Zedong)

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see? (Herbert Kretzmer)

Comrades, Friends, Countrymen... how long have we toiled in the shadows? How many times have we wept and fretted late into the night? How often have we struggled bravely to the end, only to be broken by the knowledge that its just the interval?

From Drury Lane to Victoria, ours is a nation of islands, ruled by a cadre of sinister overlords. These besuited Batistas, these velveteen czars, these backstage bougoisie govern with an iron fist. Freedom of expression? No! A voice for the people? No! Drinks for under £5? No! Instead they subject us to the cruel excesses of their monkey-faced rasputins while we, the people, cower in the darkness. Well, comrades, we have cowered enough.

Now is the time for fighting! Now is the time for revolution! The aisles will run red with blood and the auditorium will ring with the sound of a thousand cheering warriors!

They have the money, they have the power, but we, we have the people.

But, I hear you cry, the people will never rise. They are too long in the thrall of the hegemony of these dress circle demagogues. They sit meekly in their seats like mice. They are afeared to make a sound, even the slightest noise that might incur the ire of their overlords. Their phones are switched off and their hearts are burnt out. They daren't even leave at the interval.

What they need is a push. They need us, a guerilla army. We will fight not with the people but for the people. And when they see our valiant deeds, they shall flock to us like the man selling little tubs of dairy ice cream.

The time has come to stage a coup! Propaganda by deed! We shall strike at the epicentre of the empire. We shall sever the head of the regime. If the theatre is an island, then the stage is its palace. And we shall take this palace. We shall take the stage!

Their tired celebrations have been whirring on long enough. We all know the blueprints of the palace inside out. We all know it all; the cardboard barricades, the giant chandaliers, the grown men in gazelle heads, the witches and orcs and ballet dancers and the soap stars in fishnet tights singing about prison. We know it all so well. We have suffered through it all so long. We know what we have to work with. All we must do is come up with something better.

A better story. A better cast. Better costumes. Better songs.

We will sweat and fight and toil. We shall write and rewrite. We shall rehearse and re-rehearse. We shall hire Les Dennis. And then we shall fire him. And eventually we will craft something unsurpassable.

And then one night, one blessed night, we shall take our seats amongst the people. We shall sit in the stalls, hidden amongst our masses. And as the island grows dark and the soldiers of the old regime prepare to wheel out their tired spectacle we shall storm the stage! And our show shall begin. And the audience will marvel, for they will have seen little like it. They must love us, they must want us, truly, this is a theatre of the people.

And as they rush to throw us from the stage, either the audience will sit placidly, then we have failed, or they shall rise to our defence, then we have succeeded! We will have built a new theatre of the people. They will not be able to stop us.

Oh! Our masters are growing weary, they are running out of ideas. The people are growing restless. Now is the time. Now they are ready. This is our moment. This is our perfect moment.

Join us! Together we shall forge a new nation. A new world order. All for one and one for all! This is the manifesto for a revolutionary theatre. Go forth and conquer. Thank you. Good Night. Adieu, adieu, adieu...

1 comment:

Sean said...

Like much revolutionary rhetoric you don’t actually tell us what you are for, just against (the West End, velvet seats, theatre impresarios!?!). I like the idea of invading the stage at a West End Musical; wouldn’t that be fun to watch? Let me know the show and date (remember, matinee or evening?) and I’ll come along and review your efforts.

By the way, are you going to tell us about your promenade production in the countryside?

P.S: I’m sure the Gershwin’s thought their work was revolutionary at the time. Your ideas may well become the new orthodoxy in the future!

P.S.S: Please tell me at what theatre they are afraid to make any sound at. I’ll be attending that one from now on.

P.S.S.S: ‘There is only one man who can leady any workers’ regime, he lives for your problems he shares your ideals and your dream. He supports you, for he loves you, understand you, is one of you. If not, how could he love me?’ (Sir Tim Rice).