Hello, Theatre World.
I am late for the party. So late, in fact, that I’m sure many of you are already planning next year’s party, having now fully recovered from this year’s festivities. There’s really no excuse for being so unfashionably en retard. But, alas, here I am. What with work, celebrations, birthdays, and my body’s violent objections to the sexual activity of trees, time galloped away from me. And now, as I’m wiping away the dust it so unceremoniously kicked in my face on its way, I’m going to tell you a secret: I’m not sorry. Because being waylaid by the every increasing demands of my barely manageable schedule simply meant that I was out living life, my friends. And, while I missed you all, it was nice. This is called blogging without obligation.
But all that being said, I have returned with things to tell you about. Not the least of which is my very belated contribution to the World Theatre Day 2010 meme about what theatre means to me. I’ll tell you about what I actually did on WTD 2010 later. Because it was pretty neat. And I did manage to write this in time for WTD 2010. Actually, I wrote it at Free Fall at the Theatre Centre, between seeing I’m So Close and KISMET: One to One Hundred. But I still haven’t managed to record it. Well, you win some, you lose some…
What Theatre Means to Me
My theatre career started in Grade 4 when I was cast as Mother Goose in the school play. I am neither motherly nor a goose, though I do appreciate a good rhyme, and I wasn’t cast for my talent so much as my ability to speak clearly and, of course, my volume. That’s right–they put me centre stage because I was loud! Now, to be fair, my public speaking and dance careers both began at a younger age, but it was truly Mother Goose that launched me into theatre! And at that point theatre, to me, meant fun and play and, of course, attention. Not to mention an extra-curricular alternative to sports that involved running because then, as now, I did not believe in running.
So I played in the theatre as a princess and an apparition, a noblewoman and a fool, a snake and a queen, and the more time I spent in the theatre, the more intoxicated I was by the endless possibilities, the limitless power of telling stories–because even if it’s all the same story, it is always possible to rearrange it, to tell it in a new way, to breathe new life into it. And that was, and still is, exciting to me. So I spent years exploring, examining, manipulating, and retelling stories. And theatre meant, to me, stories. Because everyone has a story. And by entering into each other’s stories, we are given an opportunity to better understand and appreciate each other. Part of the power of theatre is in its shared humanity, the language of common experience. And this interest, this questioning, this interest, got me cast many times over between Mother Goose and university. Plus, I was still loud.
So I went to theatre school, where I learned about theatre’s role in creating community. What separates theatre from many art forms is that vibrant, alive, in your face communal experience. Theatre shares, between audience and artist, between cultures, between class and race and past and present. Theatre, to me, means community and dialogue and sharing. But the thing about theatre school is, everyone is loud. There are a lot of people talking and everyone is trying to be heard and it’s chaotic and energetic and wild and just to make yourself heard above the din requires a force beyond reckoning and something clear, something new, something uniquely you to say. The real world is like this too, but louder, busier, and much more brutal. Theatre, to me, means a voice.