“The show must go on.” An adage as old as time, but in the theatre, its meaning runs deep. Theatre brings stories to life, and that life has a mind of its own. By showtime, the energy building up since the very first rehearsal becomes palpable and The Show goes on whether you’re ready or not. As the stage lights come up, everyone – from the cast to the crew to the audience – feels compelled to play their part through to curtain call. Jayne calls it alchemy, and I live to be part of that transmutation. Once I felt how an excited, engaged audience creates a visceral biofeedback loop with us actors, I was hooked. This shared phenomenon is unlike any other art. Where else but in a theatre can one experience stories so up close and personal?
So, ok, The Show must NOT go on during a pandemic, that much is clear. The Show is just backstage...waiting for us to come back and when we do, The Show must go on. It has no other choice.
From the darkest tragedies to the most raucous comedies, in theatre we are living other people’s lives, taking journeys to places and situations we could never have dreamed before. We laugh, we cry, we rage, we gasp. And we do it together. Cast, crew, production staff, and audience- everyone has a part to play so we can create the magic that occurs between the curtain’s rise and fall.
Theatre gives the audience an opportunity to become voyeurs into the human condition. The actors, directors and writers take them on an existential journey into the questions and answers of every human who ever existed. Theatre looks at the complex human without judgement. It gives everyone involved with the experience the opportunity to explore who we are and always will be. Plus it's always in 3D.
It is vital to our humanity to tell stories and understand other perspectives. Theatre exists to be a place where the gap between reality and magic is bridged, and it is so beautiful and gratifying to be a part of something creative that can move others to think and feel in ways they may not have before.
Theatre is important not only as an outlet for our creative sides, but as a way to connect with each other. Since the dawn of time, humans have gathered to tell stories, and the theatre is a campfire story writ large. When we participate in theatre (not just as performers, but as attenders, too), we are discovering ourselves, and self awareness leads to self improvement, which leads to more creativity and connection.
Theatre is important because it offers society both entertainment and an opportunity to think. Theatre offers lessons in empathy to artists and audience members. The live experience of theatre creates a bond between the story being told and the audience. We cannot click pause and we cannot separate ourselves from the experience. We may laugh too hard and miss a joke. We may cry in front of other people. We all laugh and cry together at the theatre. The communal and live aspects of theatre make it unique. Social media has allowed us to curate what we want to see. Theatre does not allow us to do that. Whether it be love-potion fed lovers in the woods or a group creating an answer for a hypothetical virus outbreak, we join together to experience the story. Sometimes it helps us laugh. Sometimes it helps us empathize. Sometimes it helps us think. Theatre helps.
Theatre is an art form where real visceral issues can be brought to light. And unlike movies or television, the viewer cannot hide behind a screen, as theatre is live and in your face. It forces one to sit and actually listen to the issues being tackled in the piece. This is important because there are people who need something bluntly told to them, up front with no distractions in order to understand the full effect that society has on others. Theatre provides this.