Some stuff what's happened (SF Theatre Edition)
Oh... err... April... Oops... *waves*
I've struggled to write much recently sadly, but I'm going to force myself into it again no matter how crap I think it is. I've agreed to write something monthly for a local LGBT site (let's see how that goes shall we?) so I need to get into the groove.
So, I'm just going to do a quick update on my life: Gigs, books, theatre!
What, you want more than that? OK then...
This summer was a Summer of London Conventions. I went down to London for Nine Worlds and LonCon3 (World Con). They were on consecutive weekends so I stayed down and went to some theatre. It's the first time I've been in London and actually enjoyed it. Normally I try to limit my time i n London so am going to just the bare minimum I need to - this time I had three days and four shows planned but nothing else so I got out to Greenwich for the National Maritime Museum's Longitude exhibition and their Longitude Punk'd project. I got the British Library for the Comics Unmasked exhibition. I got to Gays The Word! (I want a Gays the Word up here!! How can there be no independent bookshops in Manchester?). I wandered around the west end.
And I went to shows galore. Well, four in three days, that's "galore" right?
The big ones were Book of Mormon and Matilda which are stunning productions and I can't wait for them to tour and you should totally go see them while you can. Another bigish one was the National Theatre's Great Britain which was less successful. It felt like I had seen 75% on Drop the Dead Donkey, the one-off TV show Hacks and Twitter. While I was never attracted to One Man, Two Guvners from the same writer, this actually put me off it completely.
The fourth show was a theatrical production of Let The Right One In. Based on the book (and later film) of the same name and originally produced for the National Theatre of Scotland, this was a beautifully well done piece. I love the book and the film so had few doubts the stage show would work, but I was intrigued as to how. Concentrating on the rural and isolation by having the forest continually on stage it highlights different parts of the book in compared to the film (for example, the sweet shop) and the use of the actors for multiple parts gave a very queer reading on characters I've never read in that way before (seriously, one of the bullies looked like he was also acting as a rent boy). I really hope this one finds a way to tour (please, pretty please!!).
Of course, I've done much much more theatre and theatre was a theme of some of the panels I attended at the cons. All of these panels start with the premise that SF theatre is somewhat lacking. I just totalled up the theatre events marked in my calendar for 2014. Of 19 shows (including two duplicates), 11 were SF related and 8 weren't (and even then, I kinda want to include Lord of the Flies in the SF column). This is across dance, musicals, audio drama, monologues, comedy and straight up drama on both sides of the divide.
Admittedly, if you were forced to split down into narrower genre categories, they would probably be forced into Fantasy and Horror more than Sci-Fi (but Edward Scissorhands, where does that fit, really? Frankensteinesque back story and a "dangerous mutation" that leads to alienation and isolation; what about Little Shop of Horrors (Alien plant)? Matilda (telepathy)? Basically, there's a lot of overlap and ways of reading all these).
But what it comes down to, for me, is not that there is a lack of SF theatre out there, but that we aren't calling it SF. We don't have an SF Fan Community around it. It is hard to build up a fandom around something as transient and ephemeral as theatrical productions? The Dracula I saw this year was not the Dracula I saw several years ago (this one was a dance production and a smaller production to start with). He Had Hairy Hands has been seen by some audiences in Salford, London and Edinburgh Fringe - how can Hell, those outside of Salford have seen a tweaked and more streamlined production than I have. If I reference "Whitechapel" in 99% of the communities I'm part of, no-one will get it. There is not a canon of canonical versions of plays. There are a far smaller number of stills from a production you can turn into memes.
That's the problem. There is no lack of SF on stage, just a dearth of fandom celebrating it. Solving that problem is hard.
(P.S. There is a kickstarted anothology of SF plays - Geek Theatre - out now)