Never safe

by Allyn Rathus | 1 January 2016

Why would I want students to practice safe theatre when the very act of making theatre is provocative?

Ms. Rathus, why not just do a crowd-pleaser?

Why are we doing a musical called Urinetown?

What does a “Brechtian” version of Oliver mean?

Why are we asking the audience to follow us around the school? Won’t they get confused? Won’t they be uncomfortable?

Why does every show that we do have to be weird?

It’s quite simple. I don’t believe in safe theatre.

Have you ever gotten into the habit of doing things the same way? Eating the same food? Seeing the same people? Watching the same television shows? Wearing the same outfits? You already know what tastes good. You know what looks good. You know what feels good. And because you want to feel relaxed, comfortable and happy you keep following patterns. You keep looking through your same lens. You keep looking through the lens that’s most clear to you, the lens that’s most easy to see through, the lens that’s most easy to recognise.

What if you were forced to look through a different, unfamiliar lens? It might distort things. It might turn things upside down. A new lens might reveal information that’s uncomfortable because it’s new. But if you look through it you might find shapes and colours and ideas that went unnoticed because they didn’t complete the picture you were expecting. The thing about new lenses is that, even if they take away from conclusions that you would have previously come to, even if they make you reopen the box that you tied a ribbon around and shelved, they might finally show you a more complete picture.

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