Sunday 15 December 2019

Trip to the theatre gets the brain working

Fr Michael Commane - The Way I See It

The Friday evening of the bank holiday weekend I went to see two plays. The first was just 15 minutes long. It was called 'A Thirst For Shakespeare' and the second one, the feature of the evening was 'Crazy Horses'. A work colleague, who is a member of the amateur dramatic society, which was staging the play, brought it to my attention. It was chance to watch a play and give a colleague support.

It had been some time since I had been at a play. I had been going to plays over the years but the person I went with it is kept busy at work these days and I'm less inclined to go to the theatre on my own. But this play was different for many reasons: as I said it was an amateur production, also it was performed in the upstairs of a pub. It had hints of 'alternative theatre' about it.

'Crazy Horses' was the feature on the evening. The comedy is about how heaven is managed. From the name of the play I presume it has its genesis in the Four Horseman mentioned in the last book of the New Testament, called either the Book of Revelation or the Apocalypse. The word apocalypse is a transliteration of the Greek word for revelation.

Any writing with this title claims to include a revelation of hidden things, imparted by God, and particularly anticipated in events hidden in the future. And in many ways that's what the play is about. But of course there is a turn to it, indeed a funny turn. Things in heaven are in a state of turmoil, there's need for change.

People, are given new roles, the management is not too happy with how personnel are performing. On one occasion when someone on earth is being summoned to death the harbinger of the news goes to the wrong house. Even in their new roles the staff are not performing. Revolt is planned, the devil gets involved. But at the end of it all the story is that 'God' is a chancer or conman.

No, the play is not at all insulting to people of faith. It's funny in places.

I cycled to the venue on the night. The pub is about three kilometres from my home. For the 3km cycle home I was thinking about God, faith, why I believe, what it means to believe in a supreme being. What does it mean to say I believe in resurrection?

Any piece of writing, music or theatre that prompts us to think about God surely is good for our minds and souls. I'm often inclined to think that people of faith are too easily offended by views that do not coincide with their beliefs. Maybe we need to have thicker skins.

The support play on the evening was about two men, who had a yearning to stage Shakespearian plays in the pub, which one of them owned. The two actors on the night wrote the play. It was a bit of fun. Men with notions about their theatrical nous. But as one of them dryly says, really no need for an exalted Shakespeare as the pub is really a stage with its own actors.

Theatre gives us a great opportunity to get the brain working. It allows us engage in debate, to throw ideas at one another, to agree and disagree.

'I am interested in the shape of ideas, even if I do not believe in them.' - Samuel Beckett

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