The Necessity of Theatre

Cory Dunn is the Production Manager at Gulfshore Playhouse. 

 

How does theatre still exist?

In a world where big budget motion pictures and television shows can take

us to any world, any time, any scenario possible with thorough detail, how is there

still an audience for live theatrical work?

 

It is amazing that, despite the growth in technology that allows art to be

more accessible and creatively fulfilling for its audience, the theatre art form still

lives in this modern age. Some even consider theatre a luxury – not just a casual

night out for entertainment, but an event that is viewed as a rare treat that one can

go weeks without. But I argue that theatre is a necessity, and that its being

necessary is how the art form survives today, despite the alternative entertainment

options available. Theatre is necessary because it reminds us that we are all human;

that though we are flawed and cannot always control our surroundings, we have

stories to share that can connect us all.

 

In my opinion, the appeal of theatre is the uncontrollable reality in front of

us. In film or television, the writers, director and editors have complete control of

the product presented to their audience; frames are set in specific ways to control

the audience’s focus, the way an actor delivers their line is picked out of dozens of

takes, and the pace of a scene can be dictated through cuts and edits. In contrast, as

much as a director or writer may try to control how every performance of a play is

presented to the audience, they must yield to the reality of live art, which is that

anything can happen at any time and there is not much one can do about it. At any

given moment, an actor living in a scene could feel compelled to deliver a line with a

different inflection, make a new choice as to how their character might react to the

scene, or even stutter over their words as they speak. To a much more drastic

extent, things can even go horribly wrong in this live performance setting as well,

with accidents and human error attributing to a performance going completely off

the rails.

 

But to me, this is the beauty and necessity of the live theatrical arts. There is

no hiding the fact that we are all humans watching a group of extra-talented human

performers tell us a story. Theatre invites you into the performance space to catch a

glimpse of performers thinking, feeling and reacting in real time, while those of us in

the audience are doing the same. It presents an opportunity to share in a moment

with not only the performers on stage but also the audience members around you.

As you share in the moment together, anything could happen at any time that could

twist the moment in another way. In a sense, theatre provides the chance to

celebrate the randomness of life, and allows for the audience to enjoy the process of

experiencing an event with a fellow human being.

 

Theatre is a necessity because it celebrates the flaws and randomness of life

and humanity, even if it is not intentional. It is why audiences come back again and

again, whether it is to see the story of a scientist doing genetic research in Informed

Consent or the story of a band of actors trying to survive their insane matinee in

Moon Over Buffalo. We enjoy witnessing the human experience together and we

embrace our flaws, consciously or not, while we also enjoy the story. And because

the theatrical arts are necessary, I believe the art form will continue on for a very,

very long time.

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