The Coagulation of the Paper Cutlets
The formation of a community is based on at least one commonality. Various communities intersect because, as complex individuals, humans have an exponential range of interests. However, the maintenance of the links within and between these communities is also dependent upon these commonalties. Therefore, a few people’s interest in theatre has significant effects upon their wider community. Community Theatre is a convocation and celebration of shared talents. The complexity and vibrancy of the tapestry it produces is also a reflection of the diversity of its creators. This paper explores the evolution of community theatre’s reparative role within its community.
For the English playwright, John McGrath, theatre is not restricted to or by art but is capable of traversing departmental boundaries. McGrath proposes that theatre’s role in the society is one of class-conscious political activism. In his lecture “Theatre and Democracy,” McGrath explains that Western society is governed by representative democracy infested with personal and political hubris. He is adamant that “every crime a nation can commit is excused by false claims to democracy…Throughout the twentieth century, democracy has been universally acceptable, authenticating concept in the pursuit of public relations, and the most abused system in reality. (21)” Social critic Cornelius Castoriadis also denounces this form of democracy:
“What is this theological mystery, this alchemic operation that makes of your sovereignty, one day every five years, a fluid that spreads over an entire country, enters into the ballot boxes, and comes out again that same evening on the television screen, on the faces of the ‘representatives of the people’? (21)
McGrath favors the implementation of Castoriadis’ theory of authentic democracy which “institutes itself in such a way that the question of freedom, of justice, of equity, and of equality might always be posed anew within the framework of the ‘normal’ functioning of society. (27)” However Castoriadis continues that authentic democracy is not dependent upon external norms but determines its own. This independence inevitably leads to hubris. However, theatre can correct the effects of as well as prevent hubris by illustrating the social and human limitations. McGrath extrapolates Castoriadis’ theories on theatre’s societal potential in his belief that theatre can also create authentic democracy through class-conscious political activism. Although he realizes that there should be a balance between entertainment and activism, his balance favors entertainment, geared toward and accessible to the masses, peppered with social commentary.
It is simple that to be good as theatre, plays now must ruthlessly question their (society’s?) ideological basis, the set of assumptions about life on which they are built, and should have a questioning, critical relationship with their audience, based on trust, cultural...