The Editor’s Desk: Don’t be a PRAT

Public performances against face masks don’t make for good theatre

Live theatre is one of the very visible victims of the COVID-19 pandemic, with arts groups around the world grappling with how to adapt and survive. In the meantime, nature abhors a vacuum, and a new type of performer has sprung up to provide a live, often interactive, theatre experience in unlikely locations.

These People Reacting Against Tyranny (PRATs) have taken the place of flash mobs, popping up unexpectedly in public places to entertain others. A common theme of their shows is masks, specifically stipulations that they be worn in certain environments (stores, hospitals, hairdressers’ shops) in order for members of the public to gain admittance. PRATs are very much against the mandatory wearing of masks, and not at all shy about letting anyone within earshot know this. They also know that with most people carrying around smartphones, their performances are likely to be captured for posterity, which has led to any number of PRATs turning up on YouTube.

The setting varies, but PRATs prefer crowded locations: Costco is a favoured venue. This makes sense, because there is little point in a performance that no one sees. If a PRAT lets loose with no other customers and only a fixed security camera to capture a grainy recording, does it actually happen?

Props and costumes tend to be minimal, although one PRAT chose a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “RUNNING THE WORLD SINCE 1776” and a map of the United States, just to get the point across (extra marks for the shirt being MAGA red). Another PRAT wielded a chainsaw and attempted to bisect a mask; alas for him, the seemingly flimsy item proved unexpectedly resilient, darting away from the blade like a defiant butterfly.

What these PRATs lack in stagecraft they more than make up for in preparation and intensity. Many of their performances are clearly well-rehearsed; one gets the feeling that they have been honing their anti-mask polemics for some time, practicing them in front of the bathroom mirror, the cat, family members, and anyone else who will listen, so that come performance time they are word perfect.

They obviously believe deeply in their script, selling it for all they’re worth, but many of them betray their lack of theatrical training by failing to realize that less can often be more, resulting in performances that often more closely resemble someone having a seizure than a thought-provoking argument about why having to wear a face mask is one step away from Communism. If I may offer one piece of advice, it would be this: if bystanders are searching for the nearest AED rather than listening to you, you have probably overdone it.

Speaking of bystanders, PRATs are happy to perform for anyone, at any time, although store employees seem to be their preferred audience. Other customers are free to leave whenever they want, but employees are the ultimate captive audience, and have to stay to the bitter end. As a bonus, they are usually constrained from offering any critique of the spittle-flecked monologue on offer, although I would pay good money to read an honest review in the Costco Connector: “With its tired, lazy references to ‘freedom’, ‘rights’, ‘coronavirus hoax’, and ‘stupid rules’, this morning’s performance brought nothing new to the table,” writes Sales Associate Trudi L. “Over the top acting also detracted from the experience, and while the pacing was good, plot and characterization were both sketchy. Overall, a one-dimensional show, featuring a player who is clearly Not Ready for Prime Time.”

So if you’re inclined to try to do your bit for live theatre by indulging in one of these performances, you might want to give it a few more out of town tryouts before going in search of an audience. Or you could spare everyone the experience by remembering one simple piece of advice: don’t be a PRAT.



editorial@accjournal.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Columnist

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two new COVID-19 cases reported in Interior Health

The total number of Interior Health cases since the beginning of the pandemic is now at 522

Greens, Liberals, NDP field Fraser-Nicola candidates ahead of October election

Incumbent Jackie Tegart has two opposing candidates after snap election called Monday

Work has started on 20 units of seniors’ housing in Clinton

Much-delayed project has been in the works for almost a decade

Cache Creek firefighters plan bigger, better Halloween fireworks

‘With so much uncertainty in the world it’s nice to know that one community event is staying intact’

Volunteers welcome at this year’s Black Powder Desert Rendezvous

Plus farmers’ markets, an art show, a bottle drive, a Fire Prevention Week contest, and more

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

2 British Columbians arrested, 3 at large in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Liberals reach deal with NDP on COVID-19 aid bill, likely averting election

NDP and the Liberals have reached an agreement on COVID-19 sick-leave

Money laundering inquiry delayed over of B.C. election: commissioner

Austin Cullen says the hearings will start again on Oct. 26

Most Read