Seems like most performances I attend have lost the knack of remembering the audience. Unless, that is, it’s audience-as-two-year-old’s-parent. To be fair, the dictionary definition of “audience” is essentially “those who hear or listen,” but haven’t we theater-folk come a whole lot farther than that? If all that is being asked of me, all that’s being given to me is the opportunity to coo and applaud whatever a company has produced, after having sat there trying to stay awake or, if I’m well-slept, admiring the theatrical tricks they’ve trotted out, hell, I can watch TV for that, no need to brush my teeth and hair, put on clothing, expend energy both personal and petrol.
Today’s theater on every level, from the multi-million-dollar spectacular to the storefront bunch o’buds spouting invective, does not pull me in, does not make me forget that I’m in a theater, does not eschew apologia in favor of transformation.
Every script of late explains everything as if I were that two-year-old. What happened to show-don’t-tell? I’m not afforded the respect of having my own synapses or – heaven forfend! – wanting to form more by going to theater. The opportunity most current theater affords me is that of re-proving and further furrowing the synapses I already own by learning new factoids – which is the signal thing reviewers applaud, these days, that and theater works that support their own worldviews.
I’m talking about getting my head turned even just a fraction, so that my worldview – macro or micro – expands.
When the play transforms I want to transform along with it.
Otherwise, why leave the house?