The Ramblings of an Urban Art Director
by Ian Bowden , Dec 05
I sat, in the West Yorkshire Playhouse’s darkened Courtyard theatre watching 6 Degrees Below the Horizon (Imitating the Dog theatre company, part of the Transform festival) when I was struck by something I thought rather profound.
It wasn’t anything to do with the innovative blend of (sometimes quite explicitly homoerotic) cinema and live theatre or, indeed, the fact that I could see something quite this bonkers on a whim on a soggy Thursday night in Leeds. It was the language, the projected English subtitles for the non-Francophones in the audience. Every time the protagonist (veritably glowing under the spots in his tight white sailor’s pants and wife-beater vest – I told you it was homoerotic) started an emotionally-charged line he would say “écoute!” and the subtitles would faithfully translate it. “Listen!” he exhorted.
But… I don’t say that. I never say that. “Look!” I say, “What about x?” or “Look, we need to do y.”
I’ll wager you do the same.
This little linguistic foible, a tic of speech, another of those vagaries of the English language that confuses even the most sharp-eared of foreigners and renders their speech faintly ridiculous to us natives, sparked a whole train of thought, briefly distracting me from the simulated oral sex on stage, about the nature of seeing and visual stimulus.
You see (there we go again) we’re visual beings, our stimulation comes primarily through the eyes… but sometimes we become jaded with the familiarity of our surroundings, filtering out the commonplace, focusing on the novel. This can stop us from seeing the truly magical nature of our own lives, putting the seemingly anodyne into the Junk Mail folder of the mind.