(Photo of Ryszard Cieslak in After Dark Magazine, September 1970, by Max Waldman)
Above is a depiction of my customary reaction upon being extended an invitation to the theatre. Make that 'live performance of any description'. In fact, it happened just today. I blurted out 'I have a million things to do' which was a blatant lie (just look at me idling here!) before coming clean and explaining that it just is 'not my thing'. Besides, the show in question is part of a festival. No need to re-open that particular festering wound here, other than to say that festivals and me are like oil and water.
I know, I know - I am a churlish Philistine.
I blame it on having to attend so many church services as a child. Something about ritualised group responses to spectacle causes me to shudder. My worst nightmare is having to attend a performance of a stand up comedian and feeling compelled to laugh on cue. I will elaborate on that at some point no doubt. But tonight it is yet still too raw...
Opening an article with an apparently apocryphal quote from Stanislavski, 'You must suffer if you are to be an artist!',is for me, a massive neon sign blinking, 'This way to Funsville'. Here is what the rest of the accompanying article says about this delightful little slice of angst:
'As a man, he is made to suffer an intense, extended, choreographed, orchestrated orgy of physical and vocal involvement. As a symbolic figure, he becomes like a Christ, absorbing into his body and his spirit all the angers, rages and frustrations of a frightened, frantic humanity which...oh, stop it.