Why Theatre is Necessary

I am involved in a world that is often thought of as trivial and frivolous. I’m studying to be a part of a profession that is rarely taken seriously. However, the things I have learned in theatre have only solidified why theatre is so necessary.

I recently read this article “10 Ways Being a Theatre Major Prepared Me For Success”. The blogger writes about how she obtained a degree in theatre, and while she is not employed in the realm of theatre, she does not regret the degree because of the many things it has provided her.

I recently closed the show, reasons to be pretty. This show was extremely near and dear to my heart. In fact, one of the most cathartic moments of my life happened after reading this play for the first time, several years ago. It explores how a relationship dissolves after a girl finds out her boyfriend called her regular. It’s a simple premise with a whole lot of weight. The first time I read the show, I immediately identified with the character I would end up playing a few years later. People often think she’s a bitch or over-the-top…and at certain points, she is. But I related to that deep-rooted insecurity within her telling her she wasn’t good enough, only to feel like her boyfriend validated that with his seemingly innocent words.

At the time I read the play, I was a newly single mother of an infant. I was ending an extremely rocky marriage, dealing with a changed body and identity, living at home with my parents after being independent for several years, and finding myself embracing theatre in a whole new light. When I read the final stage directions, I noticed tears streaming down my face. It’s not really a sad play…a bittersweet one, sure, but not sad necessarily. But it reached deep inside of me and brought to light so much of my own human experience. And THAT right there is why theatre is necessary.

This same show just closed for me this past weekend. And there have been several uproars over different issues. The wide and freely used “fuck” word, in the show, was extremely offensive to some. My character alone had to say it 40+ times. And I learned so much about what people are willing to accept and what they are willing to throw away. I find this show to be one of the most honest, real-to-life shows I’ve ever read, been a part of, seen. And yet people became so wrapped up in the language, they lost the really beautiful moments of the show. Sure, the language might not have been necessary to convey the story, but this show merely reflects living, breathing human experience. People talk like that. People get angry at their significant others and say really mean and hurtful things. People don’t think about what they say before they say it, often leading to unnecessary heartache. People do this. And THAT is why theatre is necessary.

There is not another art form that can convey life like theatre can. Theatre requires the audience to turn their phones off, drown out the outside world, wait until intermission to tinkle, and invest in lives of living, breathing human beings. This is why the theatre can sometimes be really uncomfortable. In movie theatres, you can drown out the discomfort, you can take a bathroom break, you can glance at your phone, but theatre requires you to be there, aware, and invested.

Theatre has given me some of my most spiritual moments. Zoey and theatre are what got me through my first year of parenthood. And as I’ve grown in this world, I’ve pushed a whole lot of buttons (literally and figuratively)…and I am amazed to see what theatre does for those that allow it to be what it really is. A reflection. A mirror image of life.

Theatre is meant to entertain, sure. And sometimes, you just need to be entertained and nothing more. However, theatre is also meant to challenge…to not accept the bubbles that we all live in. Theatre challenges us not to judge or condemn, but to reflect and empathize. I have learned to be a better person because of what theatre has been to me. It might sound a bit cheesy, but it’s really true. I have a more dedicated work ethic, a wider view of human nature, and a more well-rounded approach to pretty much any other facet of my life. And I can thank life experience and theatre.

I’m mainly writing this to remind myself of these truths when someone belittles the life I choose. These reminders are sometimes needed.