I had this thought on Tuesday morning that I should go to the theatre more often. It was part of my need-another-coffee-focus-brain-don’t-kill-the-other-commuters trek through Union Station. I don’t really know where the idea came from or why it chose to pop up at that particular moment, but it did. And, I reasoned, it’s true. I should go to the theatre more often. I have to admit (and I hate to admit) that I really don’t go all that frequently. In fact, I would be embarrassed to tell you how infrequently I go to the theatre. So I won’t. Because there are limits to the level of internet-embarrassment I will subject myself to. Suffice to say, I don’t go to the theatre nearly enough.
I realize I should go more often. And that some of the reasons I don’t could be viewed as excuses (and some of them really are just that). And I also know that there are some theatre–going rockstars out there and I am completely in awe of their commitment and ability to be present at just about everything. But I seem to be limited. Funding is certainly an issue. Yes, there are a lot of tickets in the $10 – $20 range, which is perfectly reasonable pricing. The problem is that it doesn’t take long for this to add up. And it’s an unfortunate side effect of making a living in the arts that you then have no extra cash flow to push back into the arts. It’s actually quite the paradox: we all want to be paid for our art, but we don’t want to (or can’t afford to) pay to support the arts.
There is also the question of time. It is a time commitment to go to the theatre. And time = money. So see above. I also find that I can only drag my significant other to so many things before his head explodes and going to the theatre alone is far less fun.
If it makes any difference to anyone, I don’t go to the movies either. But this was not the point of this post. So back to Tuesday…
As I was on my way to teach drama to the German children, I got a Twitter message from the lovely Alison asking if I wanted to join her at the theatre that very evening. This is why I love Twitter. Because I have never really met Alison, although I have seen her before. A bit stalker-ish, I know. Also, not the first time this go-to-the-theatre-via-Twitter offer has happened, although it usually only happens when I have a schedule conflict. But I digress… I decided that my brain having brought this very issue up earlier in the day was a sign. After a bit of mental math related to my schedule (read: will I have enough time to go home and change out of these yoga pants/wash my face?), I agreed to meet Alison at Passe Muraille . Because here is an offer to go to the theatre with another person who enjoys theatre. Where is the downside, please?
Ugh, rain. Rain was the downside. But I was determined. I said yes. I can’t bail, I won’t bail, bad weather be damned.
So I went to the theatre on a rainy Tuesday night with a relative stranger. And I had a lovely time. Partly because I finally got to meet another of my Twitter friends. And partly because I thought Theatre Rusticle’s Birnam Wood was really interesting. I’m intrigued by almost anything that takes Shakespeare as its jumping off point. And I found this particular exploration of one of my favourite plays to be very alive and beautiful (props to Lindsay Anne Black, another Twitter friend, for some seriously awesome design). It had an ethereal, other-worldly quality about it that was exhilarating as an audience member; it was nice to get lost in another world on a miserable Tuesday evening. This was also my first exposure to Theatre Rusticle, and it made me want to move. In fact, I felt like I was having flashbacks to a really fabulous movement class in second year at Strasberg. So thanks for all that, Alison.
Afterward, I started thinking about my life as a theatre-goer. And I realized that I love being an audience member almost as much as I love being on stage. Almost. When I lived in London, we went to the theatre at least once a week. Not only was I happy to be supporting a vibrant theatre community, but going to the theatre had a profound impact on my own artistic practices and creativity. It challenged me, made me question things, in short, made me work harder. It was inspiring. I miss that feeling!
For me, the benefits outweigh the challenges of attending theatre. Which means, financially, I am going to have to suck it up. I will make time. I will go by myself if necessary. But I will go.
So welcome to that experiment. Let’s see how many shows I can make it to in the next month…