Can’t Act, Can’t Sing, Can “Perform”


All to often, avant-garde theater fetishizes performers of limited ability.

It’s a shrewd act: When actors self-consciously drone through lines, or affect melodrama or fall into stereotype, they evade notions of quality because bad acting is precisely the point of their work. Dramaturges pass performers’ limitations off as a formal choice that “draws attention to the text,” “reveals the falseness of society” or “unifies the play’s aesthetic,” but the fact remains: the performers just ain’t got skills.

Critics are complicit. When they praise experimental work, they do so “within the framework of the avant-garde’s goals and values” without questioning those goals or values.

Ineptitude might be fun/funny every now and then, but let’s not hang an art form on it!



  1. Er…exactly what interrogation of assumptions does the mainstream psychological realist, unity-of-character theater do?

... Any thoughts?... C'mon!

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