Sunday, October 04, 2009

Ways to make boring stuff less boring

Today I went to see Classics in the Quad at the University of Kings College. This year the play performed was the tragedy Oedipus Rex, and boy did it ever drag on. Another "sowed his seed where he himself was sown" and I'd have torn my hair out! I read the script for a class last year, but I did NOT remember just how repetitious it can be in places. Were this my only complaint I imagine it would be fairly easy to dismiss, being that I am eminently less capable of paying attention than the general population. This is not my only complaint. I would like to say that the production was uneven, but that's not quite it. For the most part it was straightforward, unambitious. Of dubious judgement was the decision to have multiply redundant players for the main cast, ostensibly to increase the audibility of an outdoor performance in an acoustically unfriendly location. The extra leads were positioned around the edge of the crowd, and (ideally) spoke in unison with the player on stage proper. I say "(ideally)", because many of the lines were spoken hilariously out-of-sync, sometimes even serving as prompts when the on stage lead blanked (!) on a line. The one interesting use of the device was to have all of the players for a main character on stage at once, as when the Jocastas surrounded Oedipus. There were some genuinely funny moments, like the reaction of cast and audience alike to Oedipus' very long speech about just how miserable his daughters are going to be, and how they will never ever ever ever be married, etc. Or when two old men must meet practically nose-to-nose in order to properly identify the other. Had the rest of the production carried any trace of this humour, I might have been prepared to offer a positive review.

So what would I recommend to the Kings Theatre Society for next time? Probably microphones for the actors and stage direction that puts the actors closer to the audience more of the time (the library steps are great, but fundamentally unengaging). Those are some pretty boring suggestions, though. I don't think they go far enough in redressing the real problem: long, drawn-out theatre, ESPECIALLY of the amateur variety, can get PRETTY DULL. To this end, I present the Official Loud Blog List of Things That Make Other, More Boring Things Into Less Boring Things:

While I will admit that I have seen this done in a pretty damn boring way before, it's usually a pretty surefire bet that introducing some anachronism to your dramatic productions will spice them up! Romeo+Juliet and 10 Things I Hate About You are prime examples, but it works for authors who aren't Shakespeare, too! Take, for example, Clueless, which is based upon Jane Austen's Emma. Frig, A Fistful of Dollars is just Yojimbo in the American west! Of course, I'm not really sure where you could go with Oedipus that you would find a culture in which the aspects of destiny and prophecy would still resonate, but I imagine that it would make for some weird satire were Laius to find his son's terrible destiny written in a newspaper horoscope.

Pretty much everything in the world can be made better through the power of song. To wit: Grammar? School House Rock! Religion? Jesus Christ Superstar! Oedipus Rex? OH SNAP TOM LEHRER HAS ALREADY DONE IT! Case closed.

Consider this a subset of "Singing", if you find it too similar. Consider the effect of phat beats upon subjects such as health care, the LHC, or even AIRLINE SAFETY ANNOUNCEMENTS! I have, in fact, been working on an Oedipus rap since earlier in the day. So far I have:

A child is born
to the King and Queen
send a runner to Delphi
Have his future forseen!
Runner comes back, says
"The news be bad;
Oedipus rex gon' kill his dad!
and as if that ain't bad enough
he'll get wit' his momma
and do bad stuff"
"Oh shit!" says the King
"well, that's no good!
In-fan-ti-cide? I think we should!"
summons his men to do the deed
they don't look twice
but do proceed
out of the city
where goodness me!
they pierce his ankle,
string him up from a tree!
then a shepherd
does come by
says "what's with this kid
hangin' in the sky?"

And that's it so far. I haven't figured out how I'm going to rhyme "Corinth" yet. Stay tuned. Audio recording possible if you hate yourselves and your virgin ears actually want to hear it when it's done.

4 AM!
Suggested by Etarran. I guess it's true that many of my favourite conversations have transpired sometime around the hour of four. I guess if half the audience is already asleep or way too far past gone to care, your play will be an easier sell. Since everything is funny at 4AM, you won't have to worry about those little details like delivery, or remembering your lines. Heck, just run an improv show based on the idea of Oedipus Rex, and let the fertile minds of the 4AM philosophers sort it out!

Also another submission from Etarran (well, actually he said "Alcohol", but I thought that was too boring). Actually I have zero experience here, but I imagine you would not have a boring show if these were involved. I wonder if watching a bad play with drug-induced synaesthesia would have you hearing unpleasant shades of the colour purple, or tasting bad lines?


See? Like, nine million times better already! (Actually, I use the GIMP because I am a cheapskate and occasionally a F/LOSS nerd). X-wings maybe used under fair use? I'm pretty sure this is a parody of something and it's also noncommercial. Please do not sue me Mr. Lucas for using your cultural icon to prove a point about amateur theatre.

This is pretty much the sine qua non of making boring shit AWESOME. This has nothing, of course, to do with its intended usage as the real-world equivalent of that auto-boy-band machine from the Simpsons, and everything with its ability to turn any recorded speech ever into the next T-Pain style rap/R&B/electro-house hit.

And who could forget:

I'm pretty sure that Classics in the Quad could apply for a grant from the Federal Commission of T-Pain. Uh, if they were in the 'states. And if the FTCP was real (hint: it SHOULD be)

And there you have it. If there are any egregious omissions, please let me know. I may also come back to this post and expand upon some of my thoughts.


No comments:

Some Rights Reserved

Creative Commons License
This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.