Snapshots of the Galle Lit: #2 The Gay Cliche

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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.

18 thoughts on “Snapshots of the Galle Lit: #2 The Gay Cliche

  1. That did occur to me at the time, and if that was the intention, cool, but I left the performance feeling ambivalent. At the end of each vignette, I kept waiting for the point, the tagline.

  2. I didn’t see the performance so I can’t comment in detail. But you said “most of the scenes could very well have been heterosexual if one of the actors were replaced by someone of the other gender”. I’m wondering if that was the point? The fact that we are all essentially the same underneath, go through the same situations etc. And the only difference would then be our sexual preference.

  3. I would hate to see the literary festival turning into a homosexual event. Keep the homosexuals in the closet where they belong.

  4. The GLF a homosexual event? When was it a heterosexual event? I thought it was about literature in all forms irrespective of the subject matter. Either ways Panhinda, if your opinion is free to be out of a closet, shouldn’t all things and all people, if they so decide to have it that way?

  5. theatre can never match film for factual realism but it can capture particular nuances of human experience better than celluloid. i think thats because in a film the director selects what we see, its not how people ‘naturally’ experience the world. whereas a play relies on ‘presence’, not authenticity for telling a story. movies do however have a wider spectrum of stories they can tell (Jaws the movie would suck as a play lol). plays are fairly limited in this sense i think.

  6. I completely agree with Mr. Blacker. Film is better than Stage. Photographs are better than paintings…. Digital is better than analog …. Sigh !

  7. ‘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’.
    So with this splendid logic, one can extend the argument to include two other forms of Art…. such as Photography and Painting perhaps? Compare the two and arrive at the conclusion that one is better than the other; because photography captures/records more accurately the subject!

    1. Well, Marcel, if that’s your application of “splendid logic”, I’m afraid you were a wee bit behind when logic was being handed out. I compared plays to bromide machines and films to digital cameras. You instead inserted paintings vs photography in there cos, I think, you find it an easier argument to counter. Why not compare sculpture to rock music? Or apples to oranges? Read what I have to say and argue with what I actually said — if you can understand it. There’s very little point creating an argument that you would rather engage with instead of the real one.

  8. ‘compare sculpture to rock music? Or apples to oranges?’
    …I inserted paintings and Photography to point out how (un)productive it is to compare two art forms.
    Theater is an art form. Film is not a more up-to-date version of theater. Film is not an extension of theatre; it is a completely different Art form!

    1. Ah, now we’re getting somewhere. I disagree that film and theatre are two separate art forms. They are essentially, the same — the first feature films were in fact theatre plays recorded on film. So you can’t draw a parallel to painting vs photography. Paintings can still do things that photography cannot. Admittedly, photography’s catching up by being coupled with digital art, but as long as a painter can communicate through a lack of form, it will remain separate and incomparable to photography. Film, however, IMO, can do anything and everything a stage play can, and do it better.

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