Comic Relief

Originally published on http://www.takeyourseats.ie

If you happened to look online in the last few days, you may have incredulously read some very strange announcements, from swimming clubs reporting giant squid in their usual haunts, to brands launching some bizarre new products. Yes, it was April Fools’ Day. A day eagerly anticipated by pranksters, and a day for the more gullible among us (myself included) to be on our guard.

We don’t know the true origin of April Fools’ Day; suggestions have ranged from the Edict of Roussillon which changed the date of the New Year from Easter to January 1st during the reign of Charles IX of France, to confusion with the changeable weather around the Equinox. I know I certainly have been caught as a fool a few times in recent weeks, prematurely switching to a lighter jacket in a fit of vernal optimism! However this particular holiday began, we do know that such celebrations have existed for centuries across various cultures. Which is why I am being deathly serious when I tell you, be silly.

Be daft.

Have a laugh.

Be silly.

Life provides us with many reasons to be serious, more reasons than we would like to have. So when we have the option, let’s not add more to the list. No matter how serious life becomes around us, we all need a light-hearted reprieve to balance things out. Just think of any of the great theatrical tragedies; even as things are falling to dust and disaster around the central characters, the writer will add in a dash of comic relief, knowing that their audience cannot bear truly relentless tragedy laid across the stage in front of them.

Just as Hamlet needs the interlude of the gravediggers to alleviate the tension of the play and pace the drama, so too do we need to pace ourselves. On a global scale, life is pretty tough at the moment. Where we can, it’s important to find and allow for moments of respite.

And theatre is one of the best places to find that. Every raucous communal laugh, every jaunty major chord, every mischievous glance between audience and performer makes someone’s life a little better. Entertainment for entertainment’s sake lights up our lives, and that happiness is contagious. Even when we leave the theatre we hold on to some of that brightness, that positivity and we share it, even unconsciously, we pass that light on to other people and that is a powerful and necessary thing in life.

As Bertolt Brecht put it in A Short Organum for the Theatre, ‘Since time immemorial, the theatre’s business has been to entertain people, just like all the other arts. This business always gives it its particular dignity; it needs no other passport than fun.’ Whether it is in the form of a comedy night, like Stand Up Comedy Sunday at the Viking Theatre, a family day out to enjoy a feast of musical curiosity and invention in Wires, Strings and Other Things at the Ark, or a humorous, joyful and gentle dismantling of stereotypes and expectations in Silvia Gribaudi’s work Graces at Dublin Dance Festival, if you are booking yourself a ticket to see something this month, make space for delight.

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