Hardly ever go to the theatre any more, but Saturday night I did, with a friend, who works in a group who had a play in this year's Short & Sweet festival. The seven plays we saw - late, missed the first - were variable in quality, as you'd expect I guess; none of them was bad but ... don't know quite how to say this, all of them made me feel uncomfortable. Put simply, I always feel uneasy in a traditional theatre audience. It's something about how audiences are addressed, or perhaps I should say, imagined. We are, as it were, generic. We are one. We are the audience for theatre. It's not exactly that the fourth wall is up, though for quite a few of these plays it was; more that we as audience are the creature of the theatre, of an act of theatrical imagination in which I, for one, feel trapped. Feel like I want to protest. I was once thrown out of a theatre performance in Sydney, at the Stables, for refusing to go along with the delusion of a particularly deluded theatre practitioner ... but that's another story. Those years (1977-81) that I spent working in the theatre we used to try to construct and deconstruct theatrical illusions at the same time. We would solicit the audience's belief in an illusion at the same time as telling them it was false. And, when we addressed that audience, we did so as if they were a collection of individuals who might, just might, form themselves into a collective, with us, that could make magic happen. Whereas, I don't know, Saturday night I didn't feel I had any choice but that of polite acceptance of what was put before me.
After the theatre we went around to a local pub, the Lewisham Hotel, where, every now and again, they have a ... reggae night? Not sure what they're called. A back room, dimly lit, with massive speakers, a desk where two DJ's perform, one manipulating the turntables and the sound, the other toasting with microphone. An eclectic crowd, mainly African - whether from the Caribbean or not I don't know - and Japanese, with a sprinkling of whites, the odd others. This is the second of these night I've been to, and I just love them (thanks, Dom!). They remind me a bit of the discos I used to go to in my teens, where a roomful of people would gather to dance to the records someone played. Because this is what everyone is there to do, to dance. And everybody does. Looked around at one point and saw that the whole room, including those faraway in dark corners cluttered with bizarre bits of furniture, was dancing. And it's not a boy-girl thing either, sometimes the dance floor was 80-90 percent males, dancing - outside of gay clubs, where do you ever see that, these days? And some of those guys can really move ... so, what am I saying, something about how the sense of being one in that dancing room came simply out of being there, was not imposed, not a given, not a role that had to be conformed to; just what happened.