Tom Goulter - "Director" - Christchurch

Friday, September 24, 2004

Art, Life, and Heisenberg
Being a Heading whose apparent Depth I can not ever possibly Live Up To

(Do you apologise for your absenteeism from a blogging community in that blog? I suspect you don't. It does tie in with the theme of the post, so I guess we'll leave it halfway).
For the past month I have not been very good at noticing what's going on in the world, let alone forming perspectives thereon. (Self-deprecating punchline here). This is because for the last month, I have been directing a show that nobody much saw. And putting far too much time into it.
I'd guaranteed myself a fast-track to the good life where it's directing George Henare and rolling with David McPhail and popping Cristal in the Benz with Emmeline Hawthorne on my D, by casting the son of the woman who runs the Court Theatre in my play. (He was amazing in rehearsals, by the way).
And this amazing performance would've been one that the director of the Court would have to see, because it was her son in my play, and before you could blink, it would've been hello Emmeline - possibly even Avril Thresh! - and accolades and plaudits all round. Plaudits, people.
But it was not to be: my Court Theatre connection got offered lighting duties on a show at the Court, and I had to recast with immensely talented unknowns. Curse that Tony Mccaffrey; he's like my amazingly knowledgeable, utterly eccentric doppelganger.
Anyway, busy as I was on this show, I was impressed by just how oblivious to major world events I became. The Republican Baby-Eating Jamboree, which I had been looking forward to following for some considerable time, totally passed me by. I still have no fucking idea - don't laugh - who Ahmed Zaoui is. I managed to find time to suss out that this David Irving character, rather than being one of the friendly, good-hearted if misguided-to-the-point-of-being-accidentally-evil-and-not-noticing, Caucasian-apologist denier types, was in fact a virulently anti-Semitic little dickwad (he is, right? I've at least got that one right?), but that's about as much headway as I managed to make.
My ignorance was well and truly brought home when I was showing someone one of the video sequences I'd been preparing for my play (Oohh, it was multimedia! Like Clara Parsons but with explosions in it! Bet you wish you'd seen it now, huh? Huh??). In what I like to laughingly call an homage to the opening of Se7en (but which I acknowledge is probably closer to a pastiche of the opening of Dawn Of The Dead 2004), short clips of Abstract Disturbing Shit flash across the screen while moody music happens. One of the latter of these clips was a zoomed-in shot of a televised explosion, from which (in a fortunate accident by which Marcel Duchamp would be tickled pink) I had accidentally forgotten to remove the date from my camcorder while I was filming it; so there was a grainy, blurry shot of a firey explosion with figures running around it, stamped with yesterday's date on it.
"Is that from that thing in Russia?", my friend asked me. "No", I retorted, making clear what a ludicrous assumption that was, "It's zoomed-in footage from The Living Daylights". (Which is a triumph of action cinema). This highlighting of my friend's foolish assumption covered nicely for the fact that, with my preoccupations and business and suchlike, I had very little idea just what "that thing in Russia" actually was.
As "that thing in Russia" became more of a Thing, I found myself almost consciously insulating myself from it: because this was, journalistic distance be damned, about the most horrific thing to happen in major news coverage since September 11, and being as I was directing a play about art and terrorism and dead children, I didn't particularly want to be influenced by real-world terrorism killing real-world children.
(Aside: on September 11, 2001, I was in rehearsal for a short play about authoritarianism and abuse of power and airplanes. We were all somewhat shook up by the day's events, but we all turned up to rehearsal anyway, and the way 9/11 had that kind of terrible unreality about it, the performances given in that rehearsal were some of the most haunting in the life of the play. But let's not turn this into a "where were you?" roundtable now).
Anyway, the play went up, and nobody saw it, which in some ways is lucky, because every day I'd drive to rehearsal and pass the billboards for this campaign, which had actually drawn, can you fucking believe it, complaints on the grounds that it was making fun of kids, and in Beslan kids were dying and being threatened and terrorised and all manner of real-world actual atrocities were happening involving children and terrorism, which was highly disturbing, before the world's media got a hold of it and put it in slomo and set it to Barber's Adagio For Strings and found comparatively clean pictures and captioned them "slaughter of the innocents".
So, really, maybe it's lucky nobody saw my play, because it sure did have a lot of references to terrorists killing children.
And yes, this is a conscious avoidance of the larger issue, because Memo To Worldwide Media In The Aftermath Of Beslan: if you can't say it in a way that communicates the real actual non-televised (apologies to Max) tragedy of the whole affair, stick to the facts and shut up.
So that's what I, in my naive idealism with the benefit of hindsight, am doing.