For about a 10-year period, you couldn’t sit in a theater audience without the production flashing lights in your eyes. Didn’t matter whether it was URINETOWN or TOM STOPPARD’S ROCK AND ROLL or MAN OF LA MANCHA or DEATH OF A SALESMAN (OK, that’s an exaggeration, but not much of one): every production I saw tried to trigger migraines or epileptic fits.
Next, in every play, there was a character giving a lecture, not a diatribe or monologue or polemic, but a character playing a professor or religious leader or team captain giving an honest-to-god lecture as if the audience were the students or flock or rugger scrum. At no other point in the play was the fourth wall dropped than this one, long, embarassing lecture.
Suddenly, all plays are miked, it seems. Perhaps a wealthy patron has been flattered into donating a sound system. And there appear to be very, very few competent sound technicians, so the sound is uneven, or the singing is twenty times louder than the book scenes. I understand that enormous venues require amplification, but small ones don’t, unless there aren’t actors and singers who can project any more. To quote a good friend and heckuva director/actor, if I want to hear voices through a speaker, I’ll go to the movies or turn on the radio.
These days, many new plays comprise a series of 2-character scenes in which the characters argue and somebody wins the argument. I’m told this is what’s taught in playwrighting classes, I wouldn’t know, I still haven’t taken one of those, but it seems to be the basis of a lot of plays currently being produced. I’m not saying they’re bad plays, just that seeing this convention over and over and over and over again drives me batty!
In a theater, what makes you nuts?
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