Fraudulent Theater

Edina: “It’s a dead body, Pats.”
Patsy: “Yeah, but is it art, Eddie?”

We use the above quote from Absolutely Fabulous as an entry point to an intriguing and well-thought out argument over at the blog Histriomastix, run by Time Out New York’s David Cote, on the nature of fraudulent theater.

Cote wonders when, and if, it’s acceptable to call “bullshit” on a performance. To wit:

“Is bad art fraudulent art? What is art fraud (and I don’t mean forgery)? Is fakery the same as illusion? And isn’t illusion—the fashioning of words and actions in fabricated, unrealistic patterns (especially in naturalism)—the basis of theatrical craft? If we accept that the artist is fraud to nature and to the way humans actually behave, what does it mean to dismiss an artist as a fraud? Does it even matter if we identify the phony as such? Is the true artist a fraud unto himself—a splendid liar?”

The ensuing assessment is a worthwhile read for theatregoers and practitioners alike. You can find it here.

We’re excited to read the follow up, where Cote will introduce his “five keys to authenticity.”

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