I went to a ctp show last night, and I must say I was distinctly unimpressed. I have tried to understand Ctp (contemporary theatre and performance) for a while now, but last night brought me to a somewhat heretical conclusion: ctp is bullshit. I’m sorry, but it is. As far as I can make out, ctp is about taking a base text (last night’s was Quartet) and playing about with it. The problem is, this removes all of the meaning and beauty of the original, leaving a garbled mess. The result is neither intellectually or aesthetically pleasing.

Now, I like to see myself as an artistic liberal: I am open to anything from opera to star trek. Klingon Hamlet? Why not? But that – that was taking a base text, and a beautiful one at that, and virtually scribbling on it. It is like turning Lady Macbeth into a drag queen. I have no problem with postmodernism, but I fail to see the point. I also loathe the way it is caked in pseudo-intellectual mumbo-jumbo: given the stated aim is to produce a performance without meaning, any and all justifications of what I saw last night are null and void. Any questions one may have about why the actors did what they did are irrelevant, as that would be to incur meaning. What, then, is the point?

I, personally, like to think of all art as having two components: meaning and beauty. The quantities may vary from piece to piece. Bach’s moonlight sonata does not have much meaning – there is no message within – but it sure as hell is beautiful. At the other end of the spectrum, my brother’s PhD thesis is not beautiful, but I’m sure it means a lot. It seems to me that ctp has neither meaning or beauty, rendering it obsolete. It’s proponents seek to make neither, even dismissing the idea of pleasing an audience as antiquated. The audience, they seem to argue, is irrelevent. If this is so, would someone teach me the difference between ctp and a complete waste of time. Humbug!

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