Saturday, May 29, 2010

I don’t make live art, I make theatre, but now’s not the time to try and articulate my sense of what the difference might be because I’d only then immediately undermine my assertion of the depth and cultural urgency of theatre by mentioning Stephen Sondheim, which is exactly what I’m about to do. Sondheim’s early musical Company is a story about a bachelor, a longterm singleton, and all his friends are in relationships, and at the end of the show, in a scene set at his own birthday party, he sings a song called ‘Being Alive’ in which he itemises all the things that make other people annoying to live with and difficult to love. And then he has a bit of a think about it and decides that what’s really missing in his life is all the annoyingness and difficulty that sharing it with another person would bring. And what brings about his change of heart is that one of his married friends tells him, “Blow out the candles and make a wish. Want something. Want something.” Maybe we can imagine a version of that song called ‘Being A Live Artist’, and it would contain exactly the same line. “Want something. Want something.”

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