21 theatre ‘debates’ I would love to put a moratorium on.

1. Whether critics are useless, and should go make theatre themselves first. (I think we can all agree on the value of honest feedback.)
2. Whether bloggers are killing theatre criticism with their dilettantism. (Not until the job description for a theatre critic requires a degree in theatre studies or dramaturgy at the very least.)
3. The primacy of writing over direction, and vice versa. (Theatre exists in performance, not on the page.)
4. Whether a director is allowed to do anything to a classic, or a new work for that matter, or if doing so just proves that they have an ego, which we don’t like in artists. (This seems to be a particularly British debate. Director’s theatre is always as good as the director. Some sucks. If the system rewards intelligence, it produces a lot of great work.)
5. Whether theatre is an elite activity. (Yes, for those who pay expensive tickets and/or education to be able to access it. No, for those who don’t have to.)
6. Arts funding. (There should be lots of it.)
7. Whether all arts are useless and should be abolished, or what, if any, is the intrinsic value of the arts. (This is a peculiarity of the Australian media, and feeds the ignorant rage of people who don’t know much about how tax money gets distributed.)
8. That whole dichotomy according to which ‘elite’ or ‘skilled’ theatre is classical opera and Shakespeare done straight, while anything to do with computers/gaming/nudity/non-professional actors/walking about town is silly and should receive no money. (No comment on this one. It’s nonsense and offensive.)
9. Whether we should completely de-fund large arts institutions. (See 6.)
10. Whether and how we should ‘support’ ’emerging’ artists. (Support to do what?)
11. Whether plays are literature. (Yes. Theatre is something else, though.)
12. Nudity on stage. (It’s great. I love nudity on stage. Also bathtubs and animals.)
13. The merits of various Australian big-arts-festivals: Sydney Fest, Melb Fest, etc. (They generally have no artistic agenda, are meant to induce tourism. As long as that’s their goal, we can only discuss their programming if we simultaneously discuss how they are run.)
14. Whether Australia punches way above its weight and produces better works than ‘overseas’, which always arises during said arts festivals. (There is good theatre in Australia. The ‘overseas’ is a big place, though.)
15. Poor and wrong definitions of post-dramatic theatre, followed by fierce discussions of how there is a story in everything, you can’t not have a story, etc. (Everyone should actually read Hans-Thies Lehmann.)
16. Is super-participatory theatre, the one without actors, still theatre. (Kinda, yes.)
17. Stuff about non-realistic casting. (Theatre has never been a particularly realistic art form.)
18. What the f- are dramaturgs and who needs them anyway. (A dramaturg is the editor of the theatre world. Theatre is much better with than without them.)
19. Raising issues of ethical dubiousness of theatre. In particular: harassing the audience; misusing children performers; offending special-interest groups; how-should-we-as-theatre-makers-be-sensitive-enough-to-anyone-not-as-privileged-as-us. (I suspect it makes most theatre practitioners feel strong and powerful to discuss their ethical responsibilities, but I have seen very few works, ever, that really even engaged with the ethical questions of the performer-stage-audience dynamic.)
20. Raising similarly dubious ethical questions of criticism. In particular: whether a particularly emerging artist should be given a negative review; whether anyone ever should receive a negative review; and whether one’s taste influences one’s reviews. (Same as 19, but even more so.)
21. Awards. (All subjective, except in Germany.)

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