Monday, March 26, 2012

What Is Theatre To You?

I stepped into a blackbox yesterday afternoon.
It was a decent space, although set up as one would a proscenium. The actors had absolutely no training, they came from various background (some performative and some not) and they had one thing in common-
They were studying Pharmacy.

The question of What Is Theatre has been posed to me over and over again since before school began and moreso, when it did. Some people look at poorer spaces and say it is an insult to call the work there "Theatre" and conversely, some people look at the commercialized productions with the big names and big sets and big music and say that is the further away from Theatre than anything else.
I walked into that space yesterday, and by the end of the performance I thought-
"This. This is Theatre and this is precisely what I live for."

Because Theatre, real theatre is something that respects its audience.
It respects the craft and it respects each individual. What worked here was that every single actor was, in their own way, connected to the script.
It's not about crying on cue. Crying on stage does not make one a good actor.
What makes a good actor, what makes for an amazing piece, is honesty. And that is what I saw in front of me yesterday.
As much as I liked the recent staging of Spring Awakening, this tiny devised piece-
The Odd Pea In The Pod, with tickets at a quarter of a price and performed in a space much smaller, with limited sets and no live music and actors who were new to the stage spoke to me so much more.

And here's the thing-
That sure, rehearsals and technique and direction and projection play a huge part. But at the end of the day, what matter was the truth in that performance. No one, no school, no amount of training can teach actors to be truthful if they are not. Yes, Meisner comes close but it's funny how that is a retraining of actors to stop over-dramatizing everything.

All this brought me back to my massively tumultuous week and my love-hate relationship with school. It's not pushed me into staying put for the while, but it served as a beautiful reminder of why I'm here and why, when I go back to work, I will continue to do what I did.
Because working with raw talent and real stories and honesty and a keen-ness that I have seen in every single one of my students-
That is what I call Theatre. That is what I wake up for in the mornings on days that I am running a high fever and my voices sounds like I've spent the night swallowing knives.
Seeing that journey, and watching my kids go through that and change and grow as individuals and to finally, get to a point where they go on stage and make themselves emotionally available to the audience seated in plush seats,
That is Theatre for me.

And I realize, that's what I want.

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