Feature in Issue 20-1 | Spring 2008

This issue of Total Theatre brings you a special focus on queer theatre. Chris Goode, in his article Endless Becoming, beautifully sums up what we might think of as ‘queer’: ‘ Queer exceeds any and all of the standardised options for describing sexuality, to touch on much wider questions of identity, power and difference’.

An investigation of identity, power and difference is at the heart of the work of our Voices artist, Lois Weaver, co-founder of lesbian feminist theatre company Split Britches.

Also within these pages you’ll find features on performance in shop windows; the New York marathon that was Performa07; a professional development project on the streets and seaside promenades of Aberystwyth; and a meeting with the toast of London town, Punchdrunk.

Talking of Punchdrunk, we also bring you a different approach to ‘reviewing’, with our reflection on Punchdrunk’s Masque of the Red Death placed with three other responses from the same night, written by producer Colin Marsh and two company cast members.

More regular-style reviews include a selection from this year’s London International Mime Festival. And this seems an opportune moment to draw attention to our elegant new website, which brings you news, listings and a great deal more reviews than we are able to fit into these pages. See www.totaltheatre.org.uk

Total Theatre Magazine as always features an eclectic mix from the world of contemporary theatre & performance, including physical & devised theatre, performance art, new circus, and street arts. Work we believe is not properly represented, documented or reflected on in the mainstream media – in contrast to Arts Council England which feels that there is no need to support Total Theatre any longer as, apparently, the job is done (see Pippa Bailey’s Out & About column for more on this).

On that topic I’d like to cite a few examples of the massive ignorance still to be overcome. Item one, Toby Young’s assertion in the Independent on Sunday that ‘physical comedy… no longer works on stage. It is simply too unrealistic.’ Apparently, we are too used to TV and film to be willing to suspend disbelief in a theatre unless what we see on stage is seamless naturalism. Item two: the endless commentary on the new ‘wordless play’ The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other at the National Theatre that expresses openmouthed surprise that theatre can be without words – where have these cultural commentators been for the past twenty years? Item three: the ongoing inability of most of the mainstream media to review physical/visual theatre, circus, street arts, live art or anything that is sited outside of a regular theatre venue – unless, as is the case with Punchdrunk, the audience take the initiative and provide such a phenomenal sell-out that it becomes impossible to ignore.

The job is far from done. As, with Total Theatre Volume 20, we enter our third decade of fighting the good cause, let it be known: Honey, we ain’t even hardly started. Watch this space.

This article in the magazine

Issue 20-1
p. 4