Monday, September 03, 2007

The Death of Theatre

Jim White has an exceptionally good piece in the Telegraph today about the death of West End Theatre, killed off by The Musical.
I wrote about this some time ago. He argues that Sir Peter Halls exceptional Pygmalion is not transferring. It has played to full audiences of a somewhat more discerning character than the usual mixture of tourists and bus coach tours that make up a West End audience nowadays. White says that the audiences that were going to Pygmalion were precisely those which used to sustain Theatre as a whole in the UK, and are, in his words, discerning, thoughtful and grown-up.
This is just one more of the things that is being lost in our country. Quite a number of the audiences I would think have actually read the play - and probably a few more by Shaw as well. But as he is no longer taught, as English becomes beyond the grasp of our dumbed-down school children, as actors turn more and more to America, film and TV to make their money, we will lose something that can never be replaced, and something that set the UK apart from pretty much every other country in the world.
The final insult is that the theatre which might have been going to take Pygmalion is getting a musical - Bad Girls: The Musical! ( don't forget the exclamation mark), based on the gut-wrenchingly awful ITV Drama - and before you say you liked it, I can only tell you most of the population didn't.
Call me a snob and elitist if you will, but man never made any progress by lowering expectations. In fact, his finest hours have been when ( as that great song from Man of La Mancha had it, he dreamt " the impossible dream, to strive when all hope is gone, to reach the untouchable star".
And yes, I have read the original.

3 comments:

Winchester whisperer said...

That's really bad. Hate musicals.

kinglear said...

ww - bit elitist I know, but I somewhat agree with you. My mother, on the other hand, loved them for their general jolliness.If you need a book to read on the train, try the Cervantes - it says much about us.

Winchester whisperer said...

OK - will get a copy