“..well this actress has got a pretty face!” remarks Mr.B3(1500/seat). But suddenly and not surprisingly “Wait, I have got a call!” , and after a dramatic talk he returns “ Did I miss anything? Where did she go?”
In response, Mr.B4(1500/seat), who is as modest as Mr.B3(1500/seat), replies “Nothing important! The one in blue pyjama was squabbling and…”
We have moved way beyond times when theatre was instructive, principled, and ‘people’ (not ‘audience’) were the sole purpose of its existence. Look at the theatre of Shakespeare or Brecht, and you shall see that they hardly approved the notion of ‘audience’ over ‘people’. In their sense of ‘theatre’, the notion of ‘people’ presupposed and overruled the notion of ‘audience’.
Plays were written for ‘people’ which meant those ‘reflections’ couldn’t limit themselves to certain classes, tastes and aims which further insured that there couldn’t ever be ‘a monopoly of reflections’ since that was precisely what ‘people’ contradicted. And people, who brimmed theatre houses back then, perfectly knew that their presence in the house was purely for their own sake. If we only recall the socio-political abilities and the nature of interfaces of theatres back then , be it ‘Globe Theatre’ from early 17th century or be it ‘Berlin Ensemble’ from mid 20th, we’d able to notice the importance of differentiating ‘people’ from ‘audience’.
Today the industrial, commercial, and capitalistic orientation of theatre productions have resulted in throwing out ‘people’ and inviting ‘audiences’. The medium to inform on staging of plays, itself proves on the specificity of the class and nature of audiences. Current theatre productions in India and outside invite those who can afford to be ‘the audience’. Most of these ‘audiences’ are, but nonchalant consumers, who find vague attachment to the convictions at work. This ‘audience’ finds little worth in their involvement and is as much a victim of capitalist orientation and postmodern non-sensibility as the organisation that puts the play.
The current moral depravity of theatre and the degeneracy in its motives have transformed it into a money making industry who sell petty productions to ‘audiences’ who admire being unreflected and ably afford to be the audience such as Mr. B3.
Now, Is there any hope to it? Is it possible to have a play that may execute our contemporary anxieties? Can we have a moment where people would roar on the truthfulness of the act? Is there a way back from this monopoly of Mr. B3?