Monday, January 23, 2012


The Rocky Horror Show receives a standing ovation in Singapore.

“The theatre of noise is the theatre of applause.”
- Peter Brook, The Empty Space
Why theatre?

To delight another human being is the greatest social act.  It is a positive gain for both parties -- nothing is lost or transferred but rather multitudes are created in the moment.

All theatre boils down to peekaboo.  Peekaboo is the paradigm of structure and pacing:

You can see me.
Where did I go?
Here I am!

And the crowd goes wild.

We are a social animal, unique in our ability to observe, imagine possibilites, solve problems and above all communicate complex mental constructions.  Where there is no language to explain an abstraction, we invent the language!

We are natural storytellers because we are natural forragers.  We ferret out the dark corners to better understand the world around us.  This is survival.  When personal experience is impossible or undesireable, we turn to our fellows for enlightenment.  Literally we rely on each other to throw on the lights and show us something we've never seen before.

Let's try to answer this question, "Why theatre?"

Theatre is a life-size diorama that changes over time.  As a theatre maker I will reveal a specific circumstance for the audience to view and allow that circumstance play out.

Am I holding a mirror up to nature or attempting to shape nature with Brecht's hammer?  Am I teaching the audience or learning with them?  My motive is irrelevent.  I am merely relaying experience.

What is the audience doing?  Well, why do people rubberneck at car accidents?  To see what happens.  To experience something vicariously.  To better understand the world around them through observation.  It doesn't matter how abstract or meaningless the art -- the artist is conveying something, and the audience is assimilating that communication into their own psyche.

You can remove the script, the set, the costumes. You can light with whatever is to hand, provide sound in whatever way you care, or omit both altogether. You can fly without a booth, with out ushers, without a box office. But you cannot lose either performer or audience. That is the core of the experience. So long as you focus unrelentingly on reaching the audience, you’ll hit more than you’ll miss.

Theatre as an artform is not a zero sum game.  The more you give as either performer or audience, the more you receive.

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