“Entertainment not Art”

Some Thoughts on the Arts, by Nicola Jayne Hall

Our new mantra, “Entertainment not Art”,  has been met with some reluctance. The thinking behind it is not to insult anyone but to show that for us, real entertainment is about enjoyment. As a result, we are: Entertainment not Art. Our customer base and our main focus has always been on entertaining the community and offering people an alternative night out.

We are taking our cue from the Bard and offering a pub atmosphere and a theatre experience. At the Pen and Wig, we have an available bar in an adjoining room with reasonably priced drinks … if you want to make a night of it then pop in early for a freshly prepared, home-cooked meal before the performance. We are all about the beer and banter and, at the risk of being repetitive, this makes us: Entertainment not Art.

We don’t hate theatre! We appreciate and are partial to a theatrical performance. I can be found singing along, in Cardiff’s Millennium Centre, to one of the musicals that are playing at the time. I won’t ever forget seeing The History Boys (love The History Boys). However, we do find some theatre to be a touch pretentious in its entirety. This was cemented by a performance we recently attended, promoted as a sort of storytelling event. We were in a basement room with high priced drinks and a rather bohemian company. There were pens and stickers on the table to express oneself and an atmosphere [for me, anyway] of not belonging. The only thing I enjoyed were the sweets in a basket in the middle of the table…

They started the night with a get-to-know each other segment, which went down like a lead balloon. Then the first act appeared and explained he would be doing an expressive mime … this, for me, is when art is not entertaining! I’ve never been a fan of mime, but I was willing to sit through it. The mime made me feel uncomfortable and I couldn’t sit still … it probably wasn’t the best thing for me to sit through as it’s content was Suicide!

Now, I have suffered with depression, which has been coupled by anxiety, since I was 13 years old. At the age of 32, I am grateful to my willpower and my strength for every day I have survived since the horrible day 18 years ago when I sat with everything I could use to kill myself in front of me, arguing with myself over whether or not to do it. I chose not to … I chose not to give my bullies the satisfaction of winning … I chose not to crush my family with my brave yet cowardly action. I have also survived the suicidal thoughts that attacked in early February…

To be faced with an expressive mime, in my mind it trivialised the issue of suicide. I was not impressed. I remember thinking that if this is classed as entertainment, then I want out of it…  So, as Reality Theatre, we have chosen to focus on the entertainment factor for our performances.  We are appealing to the working class and we’re proud of it!

So we are “Entertainment not Art”.  We are Reality Theatre that deals with real issues that affect real people in an entertaining way. We put on Storytelling Nights which highlight and showcase the talent of Newport. We are from the community, for the community and full of entertainment!  So grab a beer and get in on the banter at one of our performances… we look forward to seeing you there.