The Playgoer: Quote of the Day

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Quote of the Day

"We all have a part of ourselves that cries out for certainty and meaning. If we encounter a contemporary artwork one of the first things we ask is: “What does it mean?” We can be uncomfortable with not knowing, not being sure, not having the safe ground of the authorised, correct interpretation. When encountering an artwork we seek the explanatory panel."

- British artist Grayson Perry, skeptical of all the "context" going on in arts institutions. He's addressing the visual arts, but you can make the connection. An interesting read especially for playwrights, I think.

I particularly like this reference to one esteemed playwright: "Alan Bennett thought there should be a big notice up at the entrance to the National Gallery that says 'You don’t have to like everything'." Sadly, our New York theatres would be even less amenable to that suggestion, I think.

2 comments:

John Branch said...

Having those explanatory wall tags in museums invites people to read them, and may even encourage them to think they need something other than their own encounter with the art. But reading the tags is still voluntary. Same as director's notes, etc., in a playbill, or "contextualizing" displays in a lobby, or post-show talk-backs.

freespeechlover said...

Well, I have to show my west coast bias. I find all of this a bit heavy handed. On the west coast, the population is more diverse, racially and culturally, so it's harder to control people's speech. California is the ungovernable state; people are always starting a petition drive over something, so I find the idea of a "talk back" kind of suffocating.

And I can't think of anything as boring as a "debate" at the NYTW over Israeli policy, which is what I fear a talkback might turn into. The thought makes my eyes glaze over.

On the other hand, I have to admit I would love to experience a talk back in London with Katherine Viner and Megan Dodds. I would be interested in hearing Viner's reaction to the U.S. press about her.