Thursday, September 23, 2010


Why do we only ever hear about the loftiest aspirations of theatre organizations when they find themselves faced with closure? Why does it take a crisis to make us reach beyond the language of marketing for a kind of diction that breathes civic oxygen? Signal to Noise was born into, and in opposition to, a British theatre culture that was too cool for political ardour, too in love with its cynicism to actually dare to want something. We instinctively understood what Zizek now reminds us: that a thrall to irony signals not a diminution of feeling, but a fear of the vertiginous depth and cultural urgency of that feeling; an unwillingness to face up to the terror of wanting. Back in the day we talked about sincerity, not realizing that Blair and Bush would attempt to legitimise their psychotic criminality in exactly those terms. So now we talk about desire, about wanting desire, trusting it, the thing behind the thing. When irony is complacent and cowardly, and sincerity is toxic, our want, our naked fessed-up want, is a tender, humane refusal of both. Theatre, then, because we need a public place where we can deeply care about what we want.

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