An observation, accrued over years. Artists come in all shapes and sizes, and many of them want to connect truthfully. They want to reach out and be blessed with your understanding. On the one hand this is a huge reason to go to the theatre, to connect, to share, to respectfully grapple with the business of being in the world. This business of being in the world is messy, and it gets messier every day. You know this is true, because you suffer when you feel disconnected, and there are many forces at work trying to split you up and keep you down. So it can be enormously tempting to go and see a show that tells you something you already know, so you can affirm you belong to a cadre of people who give a fuck. And that is justifiable, and is necessary, because we are social creatures, and we want to smile at each other.
There are other artists of a different hue, who challenge – status quo – perceptions – inequality – they are constantly in opposition. They are artists who thrive in opposition. When they smile, they also bare their teeth.
In both cases part of being able to connect is being able to take the piss. Reaching a place in your work where you can take the piss is important. There is a caveat. First you have to know what you are up against. The best piss takers know into what arena they are stepping, they have looked, seen, and made a decision. They know what is out there, they know what it is up to, and they know what they think about it. They have reached a place where they can think the unthinkable, speak the unspeakable, and it edifies us all.
We know this often fails, we know that ‘good eggs’ break themselves when they make us an omelette. There is an unfortunate puritan streak in this country that wants to police spheres it has no right being in. It fears the maturity of piss taking, it dreads the wit of the artists, it wants a toothless idiot grin.
It wants us to be afraid of taking the piss.