Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Black Watch, Barbican

Just for old times' sake, like...

let's talk about a play.

Black Watch, eh?

This was jolly good, wasn't it? Black Watch is the story of a group of Scottish soldiers serving in the Black Watch regiment in Iraq, recounting their time Iraq, encountering a playwright who wants to make a play out of their time in Iraq. It's told through song and movement, as well as dialogue. That's it. Simple.

A few thoughts that seem worth thinking:

Dramaturgically, this is in no way a well made play - many of its devices are almost clunkingly obvious, but that doesn't stop it being very fucking good. We set too much store by subtlety, mistaking it for profundity or complexity. There is a passage in which one of the soldiers recounts the history of the regiment as he's dressed in the various uniforms of its history. It is straightforwardly didactic - but that doesn't make it any the less dramatic - it simply transfers the site of the drama from individual personal conflict to the movement of a group through history and the relationship of an individual now with that history. (It's predecessor here is Peter Brook's US, in which the history of the nation of Vietnam was dramatised through the body of two performers). Didacticism has a bad press, perhaps in part, becuase too few artists have very much worth telling. Gregory Burke has plenty to tell us here, as do the soldiers who have served out there. In a sense, storytelling is the most didactic of forms.

So, this simple, clear, often direct approach should not be confused with a lack of sophistication, nor should it be any impediment to considering Black Watch (or any other theatre that employs it) as anything other than fully theatre, fully art. There's too much about the show to exhaustively list its qualities or fully analyse every element, but an aside might let us into its world a little: while this is clearly not where its value lies, it points towards both the folly and the value of criticism. The former is that as theatre approaches its most theatrical, its most artistic, it also approaches its most incomprehensible, its most unrepeatable. What hope for the critic in the face of beauty which renders you speechless, of horror which chokes the words with which you might respond even before they form in the brain?

This is not simply a case of being insufficiently articulate, though here we find much to be insufficiently articulate about. It is that the moment we aspire to record, to comment upon, to critique, defies description and re-presentation. It is, in essence, beyond even comprehension, since comprehension can only come after the experience, the moment, itself. The experience occurs outside of comprehension, is changed by our inevitable attempts to comprehend. It's too obvious to say that we can never fully comprehend, but perhaps when we think we understand even a little we are kidding ourselves, reducing action to signification as though drama can be read like a code.

There is a striking moment - the soldiers at the heart of the play, who we have already seen being variously boisterous, loud, crass, playful, scared, angry, recieve letters from their loved ones. One by one they read them, drop them, and, perhaps by way of reply, they perform a simple series of sign-language gestures, many of which, but not all, are obvious enough for us understand; we pick out that they are saying "I love you" and maybe a few other words and phrases. So here we have gesture as purely codified language, and yet gesture is never simply purely codified language, any more than saying a word is simply conveying the meaning of that word. The effect is hypnotic, beautiful, but above all, it speaks of a world beyond the play, beyond here and now - a whole world of desire and ache. It demands a response, but like all truly electric moments of theatre, the only response we can muster is silence.

So we rely on more inadequate words. Many reviews have mentioned this moment. None of them have captured it. None can, of course. What do you do with it? Try to capture some of its poetry in your description? Describe, rather than the moment, your confused thoughts about why physical theatre is "mystifying" and "embarassing" and in so doing tell us nothing about the play and everything about yourself? Tell us you liked it?. Offer an interpretive gloss? - it is too easy to resort to cliche and say that here we are being shown the sensitive side of these hard men. Perhaps we should retreat to the banality of judgement and weigh out our praise; for the acting which is never less than supremely focussed, always absolutely and terrifyingly in the here and now; for the movement which combines a visceral masculine force with a delicate, vulnerable grace; for the choreography which wrenches time out of joint, drawing the whole of the meaning and more out of moments which could so easily pass in a flash of intensity; for the direction which never misses a trick nor a beat, which time and again jolts you out of complacency with a surge of violence, or discovers tenderness and humanity in the midst of horror; for the music, which seems to carry the weight of all history with it in the arrangements of traditional regimental songs punctuating and accentuating the action. And so on.

But even as we find ourselves at the moment of the inevitable failure of criticism, of response, perhaps its here we find its value. It's understandable to stand open mouthed (or perhaps to scream with rage or sigh with boredom) in the face of theatre. But it's not enough. It lets us no deeper into the moment, nor any deeper into ourselves. If we are to value something we should at least understand a little of what its value is.

We need to note that, yes the applause here is for the actors, the production and so on, but its also for the men they play who are, we now know, heros in the midst of folly. And that it is inadequate. Our response has to be inadequate. Because like all great art the question you leave with is "What do I do with that? What can I possibly do with that?" And like all good questions the answer is beyond your reach and somehow you know that if you could catch even a glimpse of it it would leave even more shattered than the show does. And life has to go on.

So life goes on, but you are a little different and the world is a little changed.

49 comments:

Lily E said...

Perhaps it is sometimes about realising this inadequacy collectively, about the experience of being human in relation to others "I cannot be human without you being human" so that inadequacy is actually an adequate response to such a visceral experience because it is about collective un-knowing...

alexf said...

yes, i think you're right. that's really nicely put.

punshon said...

that's lovely, Alex. and also lovely, Lily. I like when other people have words when I have none.

DanF said...

I would like to see this play even more now. But I can't. You Alex, are a bastard. But a very erudite bastard, who's views I enjoy.

wilko said...

I liked the bits where the soldiers ran around with guns.

I like the loud bangs too. They were cool.

wilko said...

There is a very interesting interview with Gregory Burke here:

http://www.theatrevoice.com/listen_now/player/?audioID=585

Anonymous said...

viagra online uk viagra canada buy viagra on line buy viagra on line viagra facts viagra cheap buy viagra on line viagra free pills buy viagra in england 18 takes viagra viagra liver damage instructions for viagra use viagra strips viagra lawyer columbus

Anonymous said...

[url=http://www.xbox360achievements.org/forum/member.php?u=255206]order mexitil online[/url]
[url=http://blogcastrepository.com/members/menosan.aspx]drug Menosan[/url]

Anonymous said...

Hello !.
You re, I guess , probably very interested to know how one can collect a huge starting capital .
There is no need to invest much at first. You may commense to receive yields with as small sum of money as 20-100 dollars.

AimTrust is what you thought of all the time
AimTrust incorporates an offshore structure with advanced asset management technologies in production and delivery of pipes for oil and gas.

Its head office is in Panama with offices everywhere: In USA, Canada, Cyprus.
Do you want to become a happy investor?
That`s your chance That`s what you really need!

I`m happy and lucky, I started to get real money with the help of this company,
and I invite you to do the same. If it gets down to select a proper partner who uses your money in a right way - that`s the AimTrust!.
I take now up to 2G every day, and my first deposit was 1 grand only!
It`s easy to get involved , just click this link http://bicahuxe.kogaryu.com/tosixax.html
and go! Let`s take this option together to feel the smell of real money

wsxwhx665 said...

情色成人網站 -
情色成人論壇 -
18情色成人網 -
台灣18情色成人 -
AV情色成人網 -
情色成人圖片 -
情色成人聊天室 -
18禁情色成人影音 -
18情色成人 -
情色成人短片 -
卡通情色成人網 -
小瓢蟲情色成人動畫 -
情色成人娛樂 -
愛愛情色成人貼片區 -
69情色成人無碼 -
情色成人貼片 -
A383情色成人影音城 -
免費情色成人圖片 -
情色成人天下淫書 -
情色成人動畫 -
嘟嘟情色成人貼圖 -
免費下載情色成人短片 -
嘟嘟情色成人網站 -
十八禁情色成人卡漫 -
金瓶梅情色成人網 -
免費情色成人短片 -
情色成人哈啦聊天室 -
免費情色成人影片 -
台灣十八情色成人網 -
熊貓情色成人 -
情色成人自拍 -
情色成人小遊戲 -
台灣情色成人貼圖 -
情色成人黃色笑話 -
小弟弟情色成人娛樂網 -
免費情色成人小說 -
情色成人文章 -
情色成人18禁 -
免費18禁情色成人圖片 -
情色成人聊天 -

Anonymous said...

mypeBlenere, clomid online Doomssafpem, [url=http://www.webjam.com/clomidonline]buy clomid[/url] accimarty
23

Anonymous said...

I just found the website who writes about
Several
home based business reviews

If you want to know more here it is
home business reviews

Anonymous said...

Hi there!
I would like to burn a theme at this forum. There is such a thing, called HYIP, or High Yield Investment Program. It reminds of financial piramyde, but in rare cases one may happen to meet a company that really pays up to 2% daily not on invested money, but from real profits.

For several years , I make money with the help of these programs.
I don't have problems with money now, but there are heights that must be conquered . I get now up to 2G a day , and I started with funny 500 bucks.
Right now, I managed to catch a guaranteed variant to make a sharp rise . Visit my blog to get additional info.

http://theinvestblog.com [url=http://theinvestblog.com]Online Investment Blog[/url]

Anonymous said...

Hello!
You may probably be very interested to know how one can manage to receive high yields on investments.
There is no initial capital needed.
You may commense to get income with a money that usually goes
on daily food, that's 20-100 dollars.
I have been participating in one project for several years,
and I'll be glad to let you know my secrets at my blog.

Please visit blog and send me private message to get the info.

P.S. I make 1000-2000 per daily now.

http://theinvestblog.com [url=http://theinvestblog.com]Online Investment Blog[/url]

Anonymous said...

[url=http://seghan.ru/go.php?sid=35][img]http://s002.radikal.ru/i200/1001/f0/0ddd2280d906.jpg[/img][/url]












[url=http://botziho.485.at/]apo buy cigarette money order 20 [/url]
buy parliament cigarettes online eclipse cigarettes buy online buy electronic cigarette canada
[url=http://mlwqdwu.xn--baldmglichst-8ib.de/sitemap.html]buy cigarettes greek [/url]
buy tobacco buy cigarettes online parliament buying tax free native cigarettes on line where to buy crown7 cigarettes
[url=http://tioozua.connection24.de/sitemap.html]buy rothmans cigarettes [/url]
discount buy cigarettes paypal buy german cigarettes online buy empty cigarette boxes on line
[url=http://tyouhca.xn--geglckt-q2a.de/sitemap.html]order king mountain cigarettes [/url]
buy used cigarette boats buy cheap lucky strike cigarettes online buy cigarettes from europe online
[url=http://tyouhca.xn--geglckt-q2a.de/sitemap.html]buy marlboro menthol cigarettes online [/url]
where do i buy basic cigaretts buy cigarettes new york cigarettes prices buy state
[url=http://wcsoius.biz.co.nl/sitemap.html]buy made in usa cigarettes cheap [/url]
order newport cigarettes creditcards accepted buy cheap camel cigarettes to buy newport cigarettes
[url=http://tyouhca.xn--geglckt-q2a.de/sitemap.html]to buy e cigarette in [/url]
buy ultra buy premier cigarettes online where to buy cigarettes oldsmar florida e cigarette buy
[url=http://mlwqdwu.xn--baldmglichst-8ib.de/sitemap.html]order clove cigarettes [/url]
buy soft pack cigarettes buy herbal cigarettes online fake cigarettes buy
[url=http://botziho.485.at/]buy marlboro light cigarettes online [/url]
buy cigarettes in ny buy marlboro cigarette order cigarettes from florida
[url=http://vjzvmeu.il.gp/sitemap.html]where to buy cigarettes for cheap [/url]
order french cigarettes where to buy cheap cigarettes online seneca nation order for cigarettes

Anonymous said...

woodsesty, levitra online, DinoEndorgo, http://virb.com/levitraonline levitra online, twepitiencisy, order levitra, thaccumence, http://www.protopage.com/orderlevitra levitra

Anonymous said...

Amiable post and this post helped me alot in my college assignement. Thank you seeking your information.

Anonymous said...

nice post. I would love to follow you on twitter.

Anonymous said...

Today is my lucky day :)
Apple is giving review copies of iPad to 100 lucky person. Go to http://bit.ly/d9QOON and apply for it.

Anonymous said...

http://markonzo.edu blank http://blog.tellurideskiresort.com/members/paxil-side-effects.aspx http://blog.bakililar.az/norvasc/

Anonymous said...

hi there dudes. I'm honestly into shoes and I was searching for that exact make. The prices as regards the sneakers are all over 200 pounds on every page. But definitively I bring about this area selling them for the benefit of half price. I exceptionally love these [url=http://www.shoesempire.com]prada sneakers[/url]. I will definetly order those. what do you think?

Anonymous said...

good day people. I'm really into shoes and I have been searching as far as something that exact brand. The prices due to the fact that the velcros are around 220 pounds on every site. But finally I found this area selling them as a remedy for half price. I in reality love these [url=http://www.shoesempire.com]prada sneakers[/url]. I will absolutely order them. what do you think?

オテモヤン said...

オナニー
逆援助
SEX
フェラチオ
ソープ
逆援助
出張ホスト
手コキ
おっぱい
フェラチオ
中出し
セックス
デリヘル
包茎
逆援
性欲

Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye.

Anonymous said...

Amiable brief and this enter helped me alot in my college assignement. Say thank you you for your information.

Anonymous said...

NottSoona, http://buy-viagra.viviti.com/ buy viagra, Emorneror, buy viagra, FlalgeWheerve, http://vigrx.viviti.com/ vigrx, fluerderwal, vigrx, uttequich, http://proextender.viviti.com/ penis enlargement, Baharonsrah, penis enlargement, Snagimmaphgax

Anonymous said...

hello people. I'm actually into shoes and I have been digging for that exact model. The prices for the velcros are about 250 dollars everwhere. But finally I found this location selling them for half price. I exceptionally want those [url=http://www.shoesempire.com]gucci sneakers[/url]. I will absolutely buy them. what is your opinion?

Anonymous said...

hello dudes. I'm really into shoes and I have been searching for the sake of that meticulous model. The prices for the velcros are all over 180 dollars on every page. But definitively I set this location selling them someone is concerned half price. I exceptionally want these [url=http://www.shoesempire.com]gucci sneakers[/url]. I will probably purchase them. what can you say about it?

Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye.

Anonymous said...

i without a doubt enjoy your own writing way, very attractive.
don't quit and also keep writing as a result it simply worth to follow it.
looking forward to view a whole lot more of your posts, thankx :)

Anonymous said...

Correctly your article helped me very much in my college assignment. Hats off to you send, wish look ahead in the direction of more cognate articles soon as its united of my pick issue to read.

Anonymous said...

Wonknorge, http://forum.dotnetpanel.com/members/valium.aspx, GonteeneProky, valium online, lowlHetuela

Anonymous said...

HeenseFlannenhttp://pettags.com/forum/members/BuyXanaxOnline.aspx xanax, Emicysime, http://pettags.com/forum/members/BuyPhentermineOnlineUSApprovedPharmacy.aspx, RahRoaday, http://pettags.com/forum/members/Soma-Without-Prescription-Overnight-Shipping.aspx, darlliakrew, http://pettags.com/forum/members/valium-Cheap-Valium-Buy-Valium-Online.aspx, Insowsjaw, xanax, ownererry, Phentermine, AsydayPal, soma, AboneeVek

Anonymous said...

estaliBriesty, tramadol, bealiaVet, cheap tramadol, Hifavamom, order tramadol, dofafforp, byu tramadol online, MatBultapetle

Anonymous said...

estaliBriesty, tramadol, bealiaVet, buy cheap tramadol, Hifavamom, order tramadol, dofafforp, byu tramadol online, MatBultapetle

Anonymous said...

Rihanna has come a long way in her career, but now there are reports of Rihanna naked and leaked pictures running wild all over the internet today, rihanna the new sex tape, TMZ has released an exclusive preview of the new celebrity sex tape
rihanna nude
Rihanna is a singer, song writer, music producer, model, executive producer, author and much much more. Rihanna has gotten herself 6 number one aria awards, 11 number one singles on the hot 100 chart and she is the world's best selling pop female artist. You never know what Rihanna will get up to next, part of her singing career she posed naked on stage which should have has potential damaging results but it turned out, as always, it propelled her music career to and extremely high level. Rihanna has made millions with her albums, umbrella, love is all around, disturbia. She has the best R&B song of all time and will never go down.
rihanna naked

Anonymous said...

[url=http://www.vimeo.com/user4277682]buy levitra[/url]
buy levitra online canada
buy levitra online usa
buy levitra online free
[url=http://www.vimeo.com/user4277682]buy levitra[/url]
buy levitra online without prescription
buy levitra online calgary
buy levitra online us

Anonymous said...

[url=http://www.vimeo.com/user4277682]buy levitra[/url]
buy levitra online canada
buy levitra online usa
buy levitra online free
[url=http://www.vimeo.com/user4277682]buy levitra[/url]
buy levitra online without prescription
buy levitra online calgary
buy levitra online us

Anonymous said...

привет, меня зовут дима и ссылку[url=http://checrehandlo.chez.com]. [/url]

Anonymous said...

Amazon launched two new Kindle e-readers priced at $139 and $189 late Wednesday, with the cheaper version a Wi-Fi-only e-reader and $10 less than the Wi-Fi-only Nook.
[url=http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9179853/Amazon_launches_two_new_Kindles_one_with_Wi_Fi_only]ComputerWorld[/url]
http://www.computerworld.com/
555

Anonymous said...

Il semble que vous soyez un expert dans ce domaine, vos remarques sont tres interessantes, merci.

- Daniel

Anonymous said...

To me it's a really interesting content. I'd want to go through much more concerning this subject.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a good post which helped me to along the route, I am thankful for all of the strive in looking into along with writing this web blog

Anonymous said...

Hey, I am checking this blog using the phone and this appears to be kind of odd. Thought you'd wish to know. This is a great write-up nevertheless, did not mess that up.

- David

Anonymous said...

As a brand-new blogger I come across this informative article really helpful, appreciate your sharing

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful write-up. I really do appreciate the outstanding task created by your business

Anonymous said...

High class services; I ll surely keep returning to your blog for more insight.
Naperville IL locksmith
jupiter locksmiths
Locksmith Walnut Creek CA
Locksmith RedwoodCity CA
Locksmith San Jose
Locksmith Sunnyvale CA
irvine ca locksmith
plano locksmiths
locksmith fort worth
aventura locksmiths
miami beach locksmith
Aventura FL locksmith
fort worth locksmith
plano locksmiths
locksmith in hialeah
plano locksmiths
locksmith in hialeah
miami fl locksmith
Aventura FL locksmith
locksmith Aventura FL
Hialeah FL Locksmith
locksmith miami
locksmith hialeah

Anonymous said...

Come to see us at times to come by more facts and facts in the matter of By us now to come by more information and facts at all events [url=http://www.polandlimoservice.com]wynajem busów warszawa[/url]

Anonymous said...

I would like to more know about it. asthma