Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Theatre Proves It Can Make Waves - Even with Some Rubbish; Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Theatre Proves It Can Make Waves - Even with Some Rubbish; Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: David Banks

IN 1913, they were rioting in Paris. Not about an oppressive regime in another country. Nor about the evils of capitalism. Not even about cuts or pensions, or the EU. It was all about ballet.

Igor Stravinsky's ballet, The Rite of Spring, was produced by impresario extraordinaire Serge Diaghilev with choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky. It pictures a primitive tribe's pagan fertility rituals. At the climax, a young girl dances herself to death as a human sacrifice.

Everything about the ballet was ground-breaking. Stravinsky invented a whole new musical language, creating sounds and rhythms never heard before: it was shockingly, scarily new, ugly and compelling. Nijinsky made his dancers unlearn their classical training and dance in novel, grotesque ways. It was all so challenging I've no doubt will be delighted bit of carefully that Diaghilev's performers were close to rebelling. notoriety The 1913 Paris audience was split.

Some loved this new creation: others yelled that it was an outrage, destroying ballet itself. The latter eventually came to blows with the former and it all ended in a riot in the theatre: so no one really saw or heard the piece.

What's remarkable about this story is that people felt strongly enough to have a fight about ballet! Of all the art forms that might cause a furore, it seems the least likely.

Such strength of feeling is rare in the arts. As an audience we're generally undemanding and easy to please, but it's hard to retain our interest for long. In the modern world of TV and internet, we just turn to other channels, surf a different website. So it's unusual when a work of art genuinely sets out to shock, let alone succeeds.

The Royal Shakespeare Company is currently making headlines with its revival of Peter Weiss's famous (or infamous) 1964 play, "Marat/Sade". The full title of the play is "The Persecution and Assassination of Jean Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the direction of the Marquis de Sade". …

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