Snapshots of the Galle Lit: #2 The Gay Cliche
Jake Oorloff performs Voicing Silence
Day one of my Galle Literary Festival was long and hot and ended on the balcony of the Rampart Hotel in the Fort (or so I thought). One of the two sessions I’d been to had been excellent, so a 50% hit rate didn’t seem too bad. The gang was ready to head back to Unawatuna and something a bit more hard-hitting than the not-very-cold beer at the Rampart, but my girlfriend had convinced me to stay and watch the theatre performance that was about to start. So OK, I’d rather be at a boring play with her than off on my own, and what the hell, how bad can this performance be?
Now let me start this off by stating quite clearly that I think stage plays are a waste of time. Anything you can do in a play can be done much better in a movie. Plays are to movies what bromide machines are to digital cameras. This is a viewpoint I’ve not been shy about and have had lots of flak about in the past. However, no one’s yet managed to give me a valid reason why I should actually watch a play. A few years ago, I was a bit (but not much) more sympathetic towards the theatre because after all, who the hell can afford to make a movie? Whereas anyone with a wooden floor and a white wall has a readymade stage. However, in the era of handycams and other digital movie recorders, there’s just no excuse.
Anyways, Lion downed and Pall Mall stubbed, I squeezed into the back of this little room which was the makeshift theatre. I guess there were about fifty people crowded in, some on chairs, but most sitting on the floor. One wall had been lit for the performance, which was directed by Jake Oorloff. He also acted in it, along with a couple of others from an outfit known as the Bolo Players. The performance was a series of little vignettes, all with a gay theme, acted out by one or two players. The slightly orange light and the small room with high ceilings gave the setting a very intimate atmosphere.
The acting itself was pretty good and came off very convincing, but sadly, the script was full of the usual cliches — the gay guy attacked in the street by homophobes, the young woman attracted to another woman in spite of herself, the ‘other man’ in a transgender triangle, etc. We’ve heard ’em all before. I’m not unfamiliar with current gay issues and am always eager for a glimpse into lifestyles that I’m not a part of and often don’t fully understand. Sadly, I didn’t see or hear anything new that evening. To make it worse, most of the scenes could very well have been heterosexual if one of the actors were replaced by someone of the other gender. If the other man in the triangle (the gay lover of a married man, played by Oorloff) were replaced by a woman, it would have been just another wife-husband-mistress scenario. The vignettes didn’t really bring the audience anything new.
After half an hour of it, I left, feeling disappointed. Voicing Silence will take lot more articulation than a few cliched acts can provide. I think I’ll catch a movie next time.