I enjoyed giving a mini-lecture to my Intro to Theatre Arts class today about the topic, “What is theatre?”
Theatre is many things, but most importantly, it’s an open art form. The live audience makes it unique and ever-changing. The interaction with the audience makes every performance different. It can inspire the actor to achieve heights previously not achieved. It can deflate the actor when the audience is “dead” or when they don’t laugh at a crucial part or, even worse, when they laugh at a dramatic climax.
But it’s this interaction which thrills and elevates live theatre to terrific peaks.
One of the fascinating aspects of live theatre is that during the intermission, while the audience is mingling and chatting about the performance, the actors are indubitably back stage chatting about the audience. Is it a good audience? Is it a bad audience? Are they catching the jokes? Were they brought to tears? What in the world is wrong with them? What can we do to get them more involved? Yesterday’s crowd was much better.
I’ve heard all of these and more about the audience during intermission. Actors are fragile beings in this way. They need the encourage, support, and utter love from the audience. They crave it. They demand it. And if they don’t get it, their egos will never be the same (or at least until they have a better audience the next night.)
Live theatre inspires me, so I love to inspire students to try this completely wonderful art form. It’s a life-changing experience. It’s a unique open art form. It’s the stage, baby! Love it if you dare!