In a world that makes it so easy to exist almost completely in a virtual world what would beckon us into a three dimensional archaic art form like theatre? Theatre requires us to leave the isolation of our homes, get dressed, go to a venue, sit with other real people and listen to real people tell stories in a linear fashion, while we witness – usually without participating – as the plot unfolds. Why not just turn on a tv and sit in the safety of isolation in our homes? Why not turn on the computer, create an avatar and maneuver our way through fabricated worlds creating an illusion of who we are? Why would we WANT to experience live theatre?
Perhaps because as of yet, we still exist in fleshy bodies. And being fleshy, organic humans we still long for connection with other human beings. We still long for self-expression, self-knowledge and self empowerment and want to know and understand our history. We still have a curiosity about our neighbors, and yearn to be part of a tribe.
But there is a price for connection. Connection brings together things that are not necessarily the same, and things that are not the same can sometimes lead to conflict. Conflict has gotten a bad rap, because conflict without good communication can lead to combustion. Conflict, and in particular combustion, can be uncomfortable. So much easier to pull back, and choose to live “virtually”; no real risk – but no real connection either.
We can actually have both. Virtual reality can allow us to explore without the repercussions of real world conflict; practice in imaginary worlds how to deal with imaginary conflicts. But eventually we will want to reach out to real humans. And real humans come with real world differences and conflicts. They also come with real hearts and souls that are life affirming and nurturing to our human fleshy needs.
As our access to virtual worlds expands, our access to other real world people is also expanding. It is easier to travel to other cultures and the globalization of business, laws, banking, education and war require deeper and more authentic communication skills. So learning to be less ethnocentric, and more accepting of others is necessary and desirable if we are going to co-exist with so many different cultures of people connecting on earth. We will need to learn to embrace differences with some sort of co-operation. To do that will require a social change that encourages people to look at themselves and others in new ways. We must learn to embrace opposable minds with new conceptual visions and an expanded understanding of what education and communication can be.
Creativity and innovation are the bedrock of the conceptual age. All disciplines of thought will require a deep vein of communications through visual, spiritual, emotional and energetic means. We must agree we are all “the blind men sitting around the elephant” and that we need to learn to listen to each other in order to understand what is really in front of us. That’s how we will ‘see and see again’, in order to perceive things from another viewpoint, and create things that do not exist yet.
Theatre helps us to develop our creativity by putting us in our own shoes, embracing passion, and feeling deeply by compassionately exploring and telling stories. We are required to stand in our fleshy passionate bodies and perform or actively witness stories, using our emotional energetic bodies, and allowing our relations to effect the very stories unfolding in front of us. This is the power of live theatre. No one is virtual. Everyone is connected. The story is co-created – performer with audience and back again in an energetic spiral.
Theatre is still powerful and has increasingly new forms of technology available to create three dimensional live stories. But at the core are the actors, the fleshy passionate humans, reaching out to each other with the hope of connection; hoping that for an instant what they feel inside will be shared with another human being. This is done through the magic of the theatre.
Professional theatre, educational theatre, theatre for the community, comedy, drama, musicals, dancing… Theatre that encourages and allows the common man and woman to stand in their own voice, explore their own stories, and participate in the stories of people who are different. Theatre is the voice of the soul, and beckons us into a three dimensional fleshy world of humans, beckoning us to risk… connection.