Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Why I Love the Theatre - Its Humanism

When I am not expressing political or religious opinions that enflame others and alienate my friends I spend my time writing plays.

I've had a few plays produced and have had some staged readings of other scripts and I study writing at Chicago Dramatists Theater.

I also attend as much theater as I can afford to see (being the Dad of a 9 and 1/2 month old limits my time and discretionary income).

I fell in love with the theater while in college where I experienced an interpretation of Spalding Gray's adaptation of Chekhov's Rivkala's Ring. I was amazed by the willingness of an actor (Jay Magee, who later became my friend and mentor) to stand in an empty space and have a conversation with strangers sitting in the dark.

Theater does what no other medium can do because of its transitory reality. When it is done it is done. No two theater performances are alike and if you have ever worked on a show you will know this (for good and bad). You will also know that despite the attention the actor's receive, the entire company holds a level of mutual respect for one another that I have yet to experience anywhere else. I think this exists because without any one of the many crafts-people that conspire to create theater the transitory moments that make up its magic could not be realized.

"You get a different view of, say, human capital. Over the past few decades, we have tended to define human capital in the narrow way, emphasizing I.Q., degrees, and professional skills. Those are all important, obviously, but this research illuminates a range of deeper talents, which span reason and emotion and make a hash of both categories:

Attunement: the ability to enter other minds and learn what they have to offer.

Equipoise: the ability to serenely monitor the movements of one’s own mind and correct for biases and shortcomings.

Metis: the ability to see patterns in the world and derive a gist from complex situations.

Sympathy: the ability to fall into a rhythm with those around you and thrive in groups.

Limerence: This isn’t a talent as much as a motivation. The conscious mind hungers for money and success, but the unconscious mind hungers for those moments of transcendence when the skull line falls away and we are lost in love for another, the challenge of a task or the love of God. Some people seem to experience this drive more powerfully than others."

I urge you to go to the theater (or better yet work on a show) and feel the full effects of your own humanism.

H/T Pat Foltz

1 comment:

Pat Foltz said...

Sometimes I get chills just thinking about the power of this wonderful medium we know so well. Thanks for expressing it so well with David Brooks.