Based on Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare's most bloodthirsty tragedy, the script by the German playwright Heiner Muller [sic] breaks up the original text with poetic commentary about the futility of war. The Sydney audience will receive the message in particularly graphic fashion; the shape of the Opera House stage means blood flies off the set and on to those in the front row.
I guess we won't be going out for drinks after the show.
In one of my former lives, I did a PhD in theatre and spent many days in "black boxes," theatres so tiny that mishurled blood might as easily hit the back row as the front. Last night, walking home through Sydney's arts-and-warehouse district of Surry Hills, I took a back street and noticed a man standing up ahead, gazing at me expectantly. As I approached he asked "Are you here for the performance?" He was facing an open door in a nondescript industrial building, with very small-print newspaper articles pasted up in it -- reviews, no doubt. We were the only two people on the entire street, and there was no sign of anyone inside.
I was him once. I could still be him -- he was about my age. I don't think for a moment that my choices were better than his. And yet the desperation of microtheatre and startup theatre and the black box in general feels like another era right now.
"No, I'm sorry, just walking home."
"Are you sure, mate?"
Sigh. Don't ask me that. I'm never sure. In fact, it was my years in theatre that knocked all the sureness out of me. All I could do was keep walking, and hope I hadn't just turned down a life-changing offer from the angel of sincerity.