Monday, November 21, 2005
A Letter to the Audience
I have long held the belief that theater is actually a way for very shy people to live out the fantasies that they are too afraid to enact in real life. This isn't just the actors, but directors, designers and especially audiences. By nature I am a hermit. For me to go out takes an act of will. And I know that people who come to the theater on a regular basis also have to exert a will. Sometimes taking the risk on a small company in a neighborhood that is just now starting to come alive with culture and retail can be a scary and daunting prospect.
But you suck it all up and will yourself onto the metro or into your car and you make the trek down to Columbia Heights and walk up to a building you have never seen much less been in because a review, poster, post card or friend tell you about an incredible show you must see. Where men wear dresses and women wear beards. Where people speak in funny sounding accents and there are actors flying by in mock displays of combat. You have decided that for just a little while you would rather be living in the world of Shakespeare or Samurai or Weimar Germany for the night instead of sitting at home watching whatever movie of the week the networks have decided to march out for the sweeps.
Live theater more than any other experience in the world allows the viewer to become a participant in the world in which the artist is performing. You watch a movie or the television and you are passive participant, isolated from the people experiencing the same thing by distances metaphoric and literal. But when you see live performance you have elected to become part of the fuel that fire the engines of invention. Your laughter or silence can lift a mundane play to extraordinary heights and can help a great show transcend the confines of a theater or a church or a smoke filled back room of a bar.
Just thought I would let you all know that.