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Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Shall I Be Mother?

I was asked in the bar the other month: "Would Metal Harvest be suitable for my mother?"
I couldn't answer the question.  I said the reason was, I won't know until I do a run on Sunday.  That wasn't untrue, but it was a bit disingenuous.  We had a good run of the show on Sunday afternoon, the first proper run of the first half with something like the final script and music cues, it answered questions about the show I hadn't had a chance to when running it by myself.  It didn't answer the question: "Would Metal Harvest be suitable for my mother?"
There are some clear indicators about suitability of shows for mothers.  Language is one - and at this point in terms of explicit language of the rude four or so letter variety the frequency is low and probably getting lower.  So, borderline.  But I don't like / am formally opposed to putting up warnings on things saying: "BE WARNED: this show contains three uses of the word BELGIUM!" - "This show Contains Mild Peril and three references to incontinent border collies - partly because people tend to sit there with a mental scorecard waiting for the chance to shout HOUSE! but mostly because there is something dangerously reductive in protecting people from things.  If the show is good it will be because the use of a swear word or similarly provocative language/image will have an effect - if the audience is waiting for that effect, having been pre-warned precisely what to expect, then frankly, fuck this for a game of soldiers.  I don't believe in mollycoddling children, so adults really have no excuse.
I think my problem is what we're talking about here isn't about suitability, or whether it's right for someone, etc. - it's that we treat culture as a product.  We buy into it.  We look at the labels, see if we think it fits us and we spend our money accordingly.  The question isn't - is this suitable for someone's mother - the question is, is this marketed for someone's mother.  Because, perhaps the best people to see a show like this are the people who wouldn't think they should.  Because that is far more interesting and far more valuable.  If we only consume entertainment based on what we like then we will never see things that might challenge us.
This raises the question - should we lie to audiences about the content of our shows?  I have form, or sort of.  I didn't set out consciously to lie about a play, but I suspect my subconscious did.  It is a painful process, but can be remarkably effective.  I've never seen a post show bar so humming with discourse after a show as when the audience thought they were coming to a harmless comedy.  The fatal flaw there was that I mislead the cast as well, and that didn't end well.
Not that Metal Harvest works on this principle.  It's a pre-paid ticketed event and so I feel some obligation to the consumer not to break the pact.  But, whether it's suitable for your mother?  Who can say?  Even if you aren't someone's mother and wish to book, ticket information is below.

In other news, I've just finished recording a second series of our audio comedy The Museum of Tat with my good friend Michael Fouldes - there'll be five episodes released daily from 5th to the 9th October from midday.  Here's the very silly, completely unhelpful teaser trailer.



Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
Metal Harvest
Written and performed by Robert Crighton and Richard Fawcett

“This is the story of a shell...” Throughout the First World War the armaments created passed through many hands – from those in the mines and factories who made them, to those who transported the boxes and those who fired the guns.  This is the story of one shell, the story of those who touched it and whose lives were changed by it.  Told in words, music, image and song, Metal Harvest is the latest work from award-winning theatre producer Robert Crighton, made in collaboration with musician Richard Fawcett. 

Performing on Thursday 29th October at 7.30pm
Tickets: £9 (Friends £8)
The Quay Theatre, Sudbury
Box Office: 01787 374 745
Book Online: www.quaytheatre.org.uk

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