We can all be theatrical

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Does performance of a high calibre need to be presented in a traditional theatrical space? There is an obvious answer to this question, but it shouldn’t be assumed that everyone knows and understands this point. In actual fact, some of the most deadly performances I have seen were presented in very cosy looking local theatres that had all the facilities needed to make audiences feel comfortable.

At the risk of coming across as waspish, I recall an experience I had of going see a mixed bill of amateur ballet groups in a suburban London theatre. The moment I entered the auditorium, I was struck by the attitude of some of those who were going to perform. There was a feeling that they were exceptionally cultured, because they had some understanding of the way that ballet works.

I don’t have to describe the performances I saw in detail, but it should suffice to say that they left several punters feeling bemused about the deluded opinions the performers had of themselves. There were a few exceptions, of course. The person who invited me to see her perform some popular excerpts from the core ballet repertoire is dedicated to doing things well. Her performances were of a high standard.

It is a good thing that there are spaces where talented amateur performing artists can rehearse and perform the set pieces they enjoy. The practice of making art shouldn’t be preserved only for the professionals.

There is also a space for community arts practice, where professional artists can share their skills with gifted amateurs and those who haven’t had access to the arts in their youthful days. Perhaps we all need to be clear about what we’re doing from moment to moment, so we can make informed choices about participation, or consumption.