It is hard to get away from the fact that, in traditional theatre contexts, the audience has at least some sort of a role, if not a significant role, in paying for the work. They pay a fee to receive a product. Part of their risk is that they may not enjoy or positively gain from what they witness. I believe, whether recognised or not, that the practitioner thence accepts an obligation to honour the risk and the payment.

Theatre must, in my opinion, offer a reflection on life. A fact of life is that it is often, but certainly not always, boring, unimpressive, disturbing, undignified, and through and through, wholly unpleasant. I doubt many would pay to experience this! The theatre that is attended to in the greatest numbers is escapism. It is not honest, rather, it is sugar-coated. Appetising, but rots your teeth!

The only solution that I can see is to make ALL theatre free to attend. This would remove the obligation to respect the risk the audience has taken. Now, either theatre quality would decrease significantly through lack of funds or reliance on government and/or philanthropic funding would increase significantly. This poses the same problem; practitioners, ultimately, and again, whether recognised or not, remain answerable to their money source, degrading the integrity of artistic practice. My solution is, is to make Creative New Zealand a near-random lottery of massive proportions!

Who loses? Hardly anyone. Who gains? Almost everyone. Flawless logic.

In saying all of that, maybe risk is the best part of it. It certainly makes the practitioner’s job easier – greater chance of controversy. Excellent!

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