Post-Modernism and You!

Or: Just Because No One Understands You Doesn't Make You an Artist

A mixture of song, ritual and spoken word which pays tribute to the lives of a gynaecologist, a couple of artists, a few wives and nine feminists.

A surrealistic play inspired by violence in prisons, Shakespeare, and teenage girls involving dream death sequences and stylised movement pieces.

An adaptation of the Caucasian Chalk Circle which no one understood, apart from the fact that it had a cool soundtrack.

A multi-modal performance telling the story of some Japanese girl through song and dance in front of projections that have nothing to do with said Japanese girl, consisting of deeply meaningful stylised movement to the sound of classical music and operatic vocals as performed by an over-zealous soprano.

A suggestion to replace an incredibly exciting sword fight with a symbolic chess battle.

A play about birds, who are metaphorically women who are metaphorically birds who are metaphorically trapped in a cage which is metaphorically representing their obsessions who then metaphorically kill off one of their people just that they metaphorically didn't.

No ladies and gentlemen, your brain did not just melt down. What you just experienced, was five years in the life of Aquinas Grammar drama.

A drama department indeed, which appears to be so focussed on appearing serious and at the forefront of modern art that they've forgotten that performances actually need to be enjoyable and understandable.

Or maybe they've just all been smoking far too much pot.

And I've put up with it. I've played the raging feminist, the awkward boyfriend (because we are naturally far too advanced to submit to gender restrictions), I've dutifully sat through hours of productions wondering if that lemonade I'd drunk earlier had actually been absinthe, and auditioned for the part of the schizophrenic metaphorical she-bird.

I've seen the dramatic potential, hoped to dear god that one day we'd do a comedy, and had those hopes dashed. And it's all been okay. Because they are the all-mighty drama department and they said so.

But when you reach your final year of education, otherwise known as your last chance to be in a school production, you start to get a bit desperate and emotional. You start to actually want audiences to enjoy your last performance. Remember you as Maid Marian or Juliet or even the funny secretary, as opposed to that chick that played the lesbian in the weird play, right?

And when you get told that your final performance is not going to be a musical, as you had so hoped and prayed, but rather The Good Woman of Setzuan, all you can do it cry.

Well fuck you too God.

Because what we're experiencing here, once again, is a case of pretension being put above enjoyment value.

For those who quite don't understand my angst, The Good Woman of Setzuan is play written by Bertolt Brecht. For those who don't quite understand Brecht, or more importantly, Aquinas Grammar's interpretation of it, here is a brief explanation of his two principle techniques:

Alienation:

Taking something that's really really good and making it really really crap so that no one can stand it, and thus are "alienated" by the performance and feel no connection at all to the characters – because they suck.

Didactism:

Drilling a message into the audience in a manner much like patronising white bureaucrats who speak to Asian immigrants like they are three years old.

Brilliant, I know.

So back to what I was saying. Pretension vs. Enjoyment. Or rather, the need for people to feel that they are part of "high culture" as opposed to "popular culture" because popular culture is just SO proletarian.

Well, I have a message for all you alternative types out there:

Just because no one understands you doesn't make you an artist.

Time and time again, Aquinas Grammar has rejected proposals of comedies, musicals. Why? Because how can an institution possibly be taken seriously if they put on such…frivolous productions!

Aah, of course, Mrs Doughsborough. Poor Gilbert and Sullivan, only two of the most famous writers of all time, no one ever did take them too seriously…We wouldn't want to be like them now!

The question that we must ask ourselves here then, however, is what ever happened to good old Andrew Lloyd Webber? Or a nice comedy along the lines of The Importance of Being Earnest?

You want to know what happened? I will tell you what happened. What happened is Modern Art, folks. Black and red wearing, pot bashing "post-modernist", "experimental" "artists" who get government grants for regurgitating milk in creative patterns.

People who insist that they see past the superficial and completely escapist nature of theatre to something deeper and more powerful…and wait, what's this talk of something called…what was it…ENTERTAINING people?

Aaah, to be so shallow and naïve.

All I can say is: You would like to be experimental with post-modernist drama? Go for it. I could indeed say that Aquinas Grammar is at the forefront of experiments concerning the audience-production relations in regards to post-modernist drama.

The results were not so surprisingly conclusive.

No one gives a fuck about post-modernism.

In the words of the great Al Capp, a US cartoonist, and just for that quote alone, now my one true love: "Abstract art is a product of the untalented, sold by the unprincipled to the utterly bewildered".

None of the shows were sold out, no one laughed at the deeply metaphorical jokes, no one understood the concept of an oppressed artist hiding from the harsh harsh world in her metaphorical bird form and let's face it, the only reason we had an audience at all was because the world's full of obligated parents and boyfriends who are scared of getting dumped by their arty girlfriends for a lack of commitment.

The researchers would suggest that the plays are not too deep for the audiences, but rather simply crap.

Perhaps the drama department have been paying a bit more attention to another little quote: "It doesn't matter if people are interested. It's about taking your stuff and shouting out into the void."

This, was a quote by Jadelr And Cristina Cordova, of Chasing Windmills fame.

The problem with this is that Jadelr and Cristina Cordova are famous for video blogging and represent everything that is wrong with the world.

So in conclusion? Let's put up the pretence that I haven't completely wasted your time by leaving everyone with this final thought:

If you're putting being alternative ahead of enjoyment, perhaps it's time to realise that you're not an artistic genius but a pretentious twat.

But fear not, the concerned and conscientious students of Aquinas Grammar shall ensure that all audience members will be provided with complimentary cyanide capsules in case of emergency metaphorical overload.