This weekend I have had the privilege of immersing myself in the theatre this university provides. Last night I was treated to Water by the Spoonful, a fiercely evocative work about living with the past and dealing with the present, and today I managed to catch the last showing of Medusa Undone, the shocking backstory to the fabled Medusa. It had been way too long since I’d seen live theatre—I believe the last show I’d seen was Hamlet this August.
It’s really a pity that theatre doesn’t get the reputation that it deserves. Sure, there are many people who do respect the stage and the work that happens there, but most people would rather watch a movie or party or scroll through Facebook than actively seek out live theatre. It’s understandable; theatre can be expensive, and it’s so much easier to get attached to something, like movies, that you know will always be around.
Part of the beauty of theatre, though, is its lack of permanence. A show might run for a weekend or a year, but eventually it will end. Whereas a movie will stay around forever, a live production can only be crudely documented, and even then it loses some of its magic.
See, this weekend I was reminded of why I love not only performing, but participating in live theatre. The concept of a live performance opens up a distinct communication between actors and audience that a movie simply cannot achieve. The fact that the audience is different every night, and that the actors themselves are growing organically night my night, means that every performance is a living thing. When the curtain goes down, there will never be a performance exactly like what the audience has just witnessed. It is impossible to replicate.
That is what makes it so beautiful. The idea of impermanence lends itself to organic, dynamic relationships onstage and the thrill of the unknown. It lends itself to an intensely emotional experience between actors and audience.
Yes, there is “movie magic.” But there is also theatre magic, and that’s my favorite kind of all.
Now, some of the best kind of theatre magic: