I have (again) tried to make something critic-proof.
I have had a hunch for a while that Un-Reviewable theatre was probably good theatre.
It sometimes feels like critics rock up to something, they watch it, it appeals to certain terms of reference and doesn't to others, then they go home and write about it, and they often feel a bit shit about themselves because they have to say it sucked, mostly because it didn't break new ground. Or if it happens to have the resources and/or the nouse to successfully sit on the cutting edge of contemporary theatre, they can review it positively because it sits in the space where "progress" lies. And then they're like "thank god".
It should be no surprise that within this admittedly bullshit binary a good idea to look for a third option, as the first is not good for anyone and the second only really works if you're the latest wunderkind, or trying to be.
Therefore to try to create Un-Reviewable theatre is both to try to protect oneself from that shit feeling when you get a bad review, and also to operate outside of convention.
The No-Show which I did last year was like this because I honestly did not care at the time what critics, or to a degree audiences, thought, beyond a certain humanism that didn't want the experience to be painful for anyone. This was because No-Show was a real event and I was living it at the time. So it's defense against criticism was that it wasn't really theatre, it was just reality. How do you criticise reality? You can't. You can only criticise falsity. To criticise reality is kind of like criticising a bee. It's just buzzing away. It doesn't even know you're there. Criticising it makes you look stupid. Critic: Why did you fall over on stage, Richard? It looked stupid. Richard: Because I tripped on a cord. Critic: Oh. Ok. Um, sorry.
I think there are probably two types of un-reviewable theatre. One exists outside of any critical framework. The reviewer throws up the hands because "it was a mess" or "no-one could understand it". The other refutes critical ideas. It is this other one that I am interested in (because it is obviously better, and because good critics are very, very valuable and very worth listening to).
In post-world, we have seen everything, supposedly. This means we have a critical framework for everything. But of course we don't, and we haven't. Before there was post-modernism and timespace "shat itself" (Jameson) there was this idea that each moment that passes is one that has never been lived before. I.e it is not only possible to make new stuff, it's all new stuff. We are on a journey through time and space and that journey is most defintely linear - begins with birth, ends with death, and there's crap in the middle.
In this case, I do not care what you think of my performance. I am not an actor (see entry "Anti-Acting"). I do not pursue it, I do not practice it, I am "bad" at it. Because of this, I have a certain freedom on stage. The pressure that actors usually feel, about their careers, or about their ticket sales, I don't feel. Performing for me is kind of like farting in public - there are times when I have to do it, so I just do it, and I kind of hope no-one notices, and I kind of hope they do so I can feel proud/ashamed of it, and because then I will definitely exist.
I have set myself the horrible but totally acheivable task of remembering this monologue, which is 90 minutes long and I have learnt over the course of 4 weeks, and that is really the only task that I have. If I succeed at this, I have succeeded.
And so here's my challenge to you, critics - defy me. Find a way to hurt me. Go on. It's not my text, so if you criticise the text you are criticising Mike Daisey. I ain't no performer, so any criticism you make of my performance I can brush away by pointing that out. There is not really any props, I suppose you can criticise the water bottle I have with me or the yellow writing pad or the desk... but that's just how Mike sets his desk up. There is no stagecraft, apart from the couple of radio clips I've put on it at the beginning and the end, which you can criticise for being too long or too short... and I'm wearing an eco-friendly T-shirt that says "LIAR", but criticising all that's going to feel a tad heavy-handed given that the material is neccessary to give context to the monologue.
In fact, the only way you can criticise this happening negatively is to say that the whole thing was a waste of time, and to do that you have to engage with its ideas, you have to read up on Mike and the Chinese labourers, and the entire scandal, you have to work out what I intended by staging it, and by the time you've done all that you have engaged fully and completely with what the happening, which is exactly what all this is designed to acheive.
And then, in order to declare it a waste of time, you have to compare whatever time you've wasted to my time, which has been nights staying up until 5am posting on blogs in America, countless discussions with people in theatre foyers and on the street, days upon days of script-learning and commiting to memory, and wasting the time of work collegues, housemates, family, Sonja, anyone around me who has an ear as they have to listen to it... the time of Felix Ching Ching Ho who was incredibly busy but nevertheless manufactured time like they manufacture the iPhone, time I spent and asked for because I'm pretty sure all this is important.
So yeah. Chookas.