When I go and see a play I really only need one thing to happen for it to be a successful experience. I need to feel something. I need something to happen to me emotionally. It helps to care about one or more of the characters. Usually, if you care about someone on stage you care about what happens to them; the change they go through. Even feeling strong emotions of antipathy can be good. I love being brought to tears by a real life performance on stage; and I cry at the weirdest things.
If I am transported to another world that is a bonus. If the premise, proposition, characters and situation are so completely foreign but the emotions are universal that is even more special. That is how we can watch theatre in another language that we don’t understand the words to and still be moved. Be moved. That’s what I am talking about.
Whenever I am teaching or facilitating improv I always say, “allow what happens in your scene to move you, to change you. Be affected by what happens.” If players do this the scene usually always works, regardless of plot, location or anything else. And the same goes for scripted theatre.
In the last while I have seen a few things where the people/characters on stage are so busy being and doing (often busy being and doing something extremely clever) that the reasons for them doing it aren’t clear. And then that becomes hard to watch, even if the actors doing it are really very good.
Tonight I saw Chickens, the winning play in the Imbewu Scribe competition, written by Gabriella Pinto and directed by Tara Louise Nottcutt. It has one of my favourite actors, Adrian Galley in it. It is an interesting premise. And I just didn’t get it. Not even a little bit. It’s not that I didn’t understand what was going on, I just didn’t understand why. And I was bored and frustrated and completely unmoved. Oh blah.