What's the matter with the theater?

Audiences are dwindling for live theater and British playwrite Anthony Neilson has a theory: most plays are boring. "Boring an audience is the one true sin in theatre," he writes in the latest issue of The Guardian. "We've been boring audiences for decades now, and they've responded by slowly withdrawing their patronage."

Neilson has a solution: Tell a good story.

"The way to circumvent ego (and thus reduces the risk of boring) is to make story our god. Find a story that interests you and tell it. Don't ask yourself why a story interests you; we can no more choose this than who we fall in love with. You may not be what you think you are – not as kind, as liberal, as original as you ought to be – and yes, the story (if you are true to it) will find that out. But while your attention is taken up with its mechanics, some truth may seep out, and that is the lifeblood of good, exciting art."

Amen! I've been saying for a long time that the problem with the movies is that directors (with few exceptions) don't know how to tell a good story. If people aren't asking "And then what happened?" you've failed on a very basic level. Directors are so enamored of special effects that the foundation of a film -- the story -- has been lost.

Neilson feels the same about theater. Read the rest of his piece here.

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