Good art is a hard casket to find. Many spend their whole lives seeking it, few discovering the pure stuff. With every trip to the theatre you take, a survival guide is necessary. Imagine it like a pleasant airbag. Just in case you hit some rocky terrain. I’m not saying that all student drama is poor. I, How-To Guru, have been in plays myself, which is exactly why I know how necessary this How-To is.
The first type of bad student drama is that of the poor script. I saw one such play that somehow reached the Keble O’ Reilly unscathed. Best not to question how the fuck it got there. Now, the acting was not bad. The poor, sweet actors tried their hardest to recover the miserable mess that was the script. You might even start to feel sorry for these thesps with exhaustion in their eyes. Don’t. Sympathy is not the answer. The only way you, the audience, will be able to get through this play is… re-genre-ising. Sounds silly, but it works. This s t r a ig ht- l ace d piece of shit is not a straightlaced piece of shit at all! No! It is a grand, postmodern piece of genius! It is, ladies and gentlemen, a parody! Whenever the supernatural is poorly employed, you must roar with laughter. Someone just changed characters for the fifth time? FUCKING hilarious! A grand tableau of pretend poor drama! What a great idea to stage a parody involving transformation into animals! See? I’m already starting to giggle.
Another dilemma of bad student drama, requiring the same tactic, is that of poor acting. Now, poor acting is uncomfortable, to say the least. Others might advise walking out of the theatre. But frankly, this is a stupid idea. As soon as you walk out, you are accepting that you have wasted your money. Instead, try applying a Brechtian viewpoint. Bertolt Brecht, a playwright and practitioner, has put forward various ludicrous theories about the nature of theatre. His aim was to eradicate everything one associates with theatre. But, just as Brecht likes actors to emotionlessly present characters, without trying to be the character, this is what any poor actor is doing in Oxford. Wisely nod your head as they say disembodied words. What excellent Brechtian emphasis! Spend the play admiring their supreme and curious practitioner choice. This way you can feel informed, avoiding the cringing, wringing pain that is bad acting.
The last duty of handling bad student drama spans beyond the 45 to near-infinite minutes. There is a high chance that the reason you were sitting watching this instance of shame was because of a friend. A high chance. And now they’re off the stage. And they’re in front of you. And they’re no longer dressed as an elephant. And the stage-buzz is still perspiring from their upper lip. And they want to know what you thought. A nugget of wisdom: it is possible to be truthful without being honest. Some ideas, “I love the opening song”. “The tree was painted so well!” “Very bold!” “Never seen something like that before”.
Personally, I always stick with this one, “I won’t be forgetting that.