I am by no means a photographer, but I do like these, some snaps I took of the fantastic Milk Presents Theatre Company.
So, it has come to a Propaganda Company blog.
This has sprung from a variety of reasons.
To the cynics, it may seem a neat little marketing technique, an ample opportunity to rant about the changing colours of the office wall which ultimately boils down to the inevitable ‘plug’ (a word we use in ‘the business’ yah?)
I, however, feel that I could lend more credence to the rumors that I have far too much time on my hands.
But let’s just all agree that from now on I’ll be making the world a better place. Cool.
Perhaps I could tell you a little bit about the company? OK.
First and foremost The Propaganda Company makes political theatre. Currently, it’s not too popular a theatre form, I can assure you. If I was an intelligent man I’d be directing Shrek The Musical…2.
For those who have seen our work, intelligence has nothing to do with it.
However, if we choose to ignore those exploitative and glorified get-rich-quick-schemes at The West-End, we see an art form that is purely political in its very essence. At the first instance, we see a room of people, from a variety of different backgrounds and experiences, all gathered together to experience an opinion, comment or world-view. We sit in silence and listen. Afterwards we leave and talk about how wrong they were, or how much they agree or why we just don’t care. This is ultimately a political act: sparking a debate around any given subject and giving people a chance to express themselves on a personal level. There are problems with this model - within it, performance is nothing more that a rambling declamation.
The very fact that we work within an inherently political form gives us an immediate social responsibility. A responsibility to make our audience’s time worth while; to dispense with meaningless displays of what we read at university, how well we can bend or how hard it is to be middle class. We must engage our audiences with issues, real issues that permeate their lives and we must take nothing for granted. Yes, we must be explicit in our views and prioritise the philosophy behind what we do. Above all, the question is ‘why are we making theatre?’. Not ‘how’.
I’ve often heard it said that all theatre is political. Whereas I’ve alluded to this above, I do not believe it is enough to cobble together a bunch of pretty images with little if no consideration of how it is political and then proclaim: “Take that David Cameron!!!!”, before jumping into the back of tour van.
Further to this, we must be engaging our audiences on a practical level. It is simply inexcusable to have our audiences sit down, shut up and listen, then to have them sulk away to some pub for a private discussion. Our audiences should be vocal participants, taking part in post-show talks, chats at the bar, practical workshops or even a debate over email.
If you want to see the perfect audience in action, then go to a performance for children. Within the excessive chatter and babble, the shouting of advice to the characters, you’ll see an audience that is vocal, engaged and learning. That is the type of audience that we must all strive for.
These audiences are created through active engagement. We cannot just toss up a ‘cutting edge’ piece of theatre and expect a revolution (like so many believe).
Theatre must be active. We would hardly call anyone sat at home making snide comments during the BBC news a political activist, and so we cannot label a company ‘political’ when their main output is stage productions with an audience sat in darkness.
We must turn to our creative learning programs and create a theatre that engages on a practical level, taking practical workshops to the heart of communities as an educational and motivational force and not just for a bit of cash to support a tour.
It is at establishments, such as schools, that people are taught to sit down and shut up. As outside practitioners, it is our responsibility to combat this insitutionalised repression and to help those involved to not only engage with their communities and those around them, but with themselves and their own opinions, using a theatre that is active and immediate.
This is our greatest political act: an active theatre - a political theatre.
A study conducted by The Cultural Learning Alliance has shown that children who engage in the arts are twice as likely to volunteer and are 20% more likely to vote as young adults.
Children engage with theatre because they’re lives are filled with play and possibility. Older audiences should be no different.
…well maybe that was a bit about ourselves, or maybe it wasn’t. You decide.
Our latest show Boiled Beef and Carrots (I Say, I Say, I Say) will be around from Summer 2012 (Obligatory plug).
Until then, why not go out and buy stuff?
Hugs and kisses