Friday, March 09, 2007


Jason Grote recently wrote a post about the issues he's been struggling with regarding the press, audience and production in NY. In the comments section, an interesting little piece about the "live-ness" of theatre has broken out.

It's something Isaac has discussed over at Parabasis - and something we've all (people in theatre, I mean) have pondered over and debated while wolfing down coffee and pie at the Westway Diner at one time or another.

Several years ago, I noted it in a response to an article in the Times about the the state of theatre. In it, several well-known playwrights suggested that whatever the state of theatre might be, it might also be irrelevant.

Here was my response:

To the Editor:

Re ''In Times Like These'' by Kenneth Lonergan, Arthur Miller and Wendy Wasserstein [Feb. 23]:

Certainly, there's nothing like the power of human beings assembled in a room to witness a work of art as the artists create it. In times when people want to keep us separated, that in itself can be a political act. But there's also something that goes deeper. In the dark, in the moment when something happens on stage and radiates out, actors, writers, directors, technicians and audience merge in a celebration of ''aliveness'' that other arts can only suggest.

At a time when both our leaders and our enemies consider killing a means to their ends, could anything matter more?


The letter was published in 2003.


Dave Tutin said...

I've always wondered if we as human beings need to be taught how to be an audience just as much as we need to be taught to be the performers. So much of what I see today - from the increasingly ridiculous American Idol to just listening to people with their kids on the street - seems to be based on everyone being 'great', everyone being 'special'. Well, if you are raised thinking everything you do is amazing, even when it clearly isn't, it's terrible training for sitting in an audience recognizing and appreciating the hard-won gifts and talents of others. I often feel that while Americans are waiting for their fifteen minutes of fame they are unwilling to be the audience for those whose fifteen minutes have justifiably arrived! Or am I just going crazy as I get older???

Malachy Walsh said...

I don't think you're getting old.

Or if you are, then I am, too.

Which means that, for theatre-makers anyway, that goal must be to completely disrupt expectations even before the curtain goes up in order to disarm all those self-centered thoughts they're having and give it up to the moment that is about to happen.