World Theatre Day
In conjunction with the March 27th international celebration of World Theatre Day, Rogelio Martinez, playwright of last season’s Wanamaker’s Pursuit, weighs in on the state of theatre today:
THE CRY OF AN ANGRY CHILD
It’s 3:00 in the morning and I can hear my four month old crying in her room. She’s hungry. Never mind that she ate two hours ago, she’s hungry now. She’s hungry and she’s letting us know. Afterwards I lie awake wondering what it must be like to have such strong needs. Surprisingly enough, this leads me to thinking about theatre today, and its struggle to survive.
Many believe that it’s long past the dawn of theatre. Some would argue that we’ve reached night and it’s lights out for everyone involved. However, the optimist in me believes we may be nearing another dawn. There’s no doubt that theater today is fighting for relevance. Today the cries our profession makes have never been sharper, louder. Like a child awake in the middle of the night, theatre can’t exist on its own. Secretary of State Clinton made famous an African proverb in her book, It Takes A Village. In today’s world, it is going to take more than a village to give theatre a new dawn. In fact, it is going to take a new attitude.
The new attitude I speak of has to do with understanding and embracing the basics of theatre. Theatre happens when the ideas of a few clash with the beliefs and sentiments of many. It is in that magical space between creator and audience where theatre happens. Unlike any other art form, theater needs an audience to come alive. Good theater unifies an audience early on. In other words, an audience of 5, 50, 250 suddenly finds that they are one. For two hours (shorter, longer) good theatre makes an audience whole. The power an audience feels when they’re united is exhilarating. It is inspiring. Theatre reminds audiences that at heart we are all social creatures.
Theatre’s uniqueness is what will guarantee it a new dawn. Technology is constantly helping us find new ways to be entertained, to engage the world around us. Alone. The price we pay for all this great technology is our relationship with others. Good theater continues to remind us that we are part of a larger whole. For theater to exist there must be at least two people in the audience collectively working as one.
What is theatre’s angry cry but the cry for us not to distance ourselves from others.