You might think Yorick has gone on a long, neverending holiday and is currently idling away in some chalet, brooding on this, that and whatnot. But you know Yorick, he does ponder things indeed. However, he cannot complain about the winter holiday which has just come to an end, though he is generally a mess in this respect. Returning to the miracle that is Internet, he has read a mind-boggling article in the prestigious newspaper The Guardian. He thought it was a joke, but it wasn’t. At the beginning of the third millenium, Yorick, who considers himself old-fashioned, came across the article of a publicist who is fiddling while Rome is burning. What is this about?
Access http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/theatreblog/2010/jan/06/smoking-stage-theatre-cigarette and prepare yourselves to be amazed. In an article entitled Smoking on stage: why theatre needs to kick the habit you will fiind a plea trying to convince Thalia’s subjects to forget about scenes with smoking, not for the sake of the actors or the audience’s health, but for other reasons! Had he invoked this one, it would have triggered the stupid effect – utterly stupid in fact – of today’s obsession with the health of our bodies and, moreover, an effect of the faulty concept of discrimination. Ok, it would have been an example of the many deeds falling into the category ‘ it takes all sorts to make a world!’.
But there is more to it. The author maintains that this year the theater better solve some problems. And he doesn’t recommend getting more involved in the community or looking for new means of expression, not even close to that. It should put a stop to smoking – well, just a whim! – on stage. So you see what problems are troubling some who offer their opinion to famous gazettes, thus confirming the theory ‚it happens to the best of us’! No smoking on stage because it harms the theater! So, come on, put your imagination to work! Why? In what sense? What is the author referring to? Obviously, that is what Yorick asked himself too. But that fossil of a mind hasn’t managed to solve the myteries of this serious plea.
In the movies, the author says, images gambling it all on cigarettes or the gesture of smoking produce a certain impact both on a visual and mental level. However, adds the publicist, if we turn to logic, one does! But no, God forbid!, the author does not advance health-related reasons – as he states in the first paragraph – in order to support his crotchet! What, has he ever said such a thing?! You can’t think he has a one-track mind or is stubborn?!
If reading his entire ‚line of argument’ isn’t tempting enough – though you’re missing out big time! – let me give you a sample to make up your minds:
‘A real cigarette lit on stage will put any smokers in the auditorium on nicotine alert. If the cigarettes are fake or herbal, the ghastly, faintly fishy smell instantly undermines the fiction. In either case, a cigarette makes the audience remember itself.
There is no such thing as an innocent cigarette on stage. First, because such a thing is now banned by a law that proscribes onstage smoking unless artistically justifiable. But then, all theatrical cigarettes have their dramatic significance. It is a cigarette, rather than circumstance, that enables Martha to run a hand up Nick’s groin in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and in The Seagull, it’s Masha’s snuff habit that indicates her dismal unhappiness.’
I will stop here as I’m out of breath. And let me just add the author’s gag: Surely there are savvier, subtler ways to convey such information?
Translated by: Alina-Olimpia Miron, MTTLC, 2nd year