“Theater is ornamental.” Even theatermakers say it. Those who are apt to say it, say it with a tinge of shame, with the air of admitting something and of wishing the rest of us would just come out and admit it, too. A confession. A self-accusation. “What I do isn’t – really – worth anything.”
We are people and we live in a world where a lot of stuff happens and every day we wake up and somebody in the world’s dying of starvation or someone’s been raped or somewhere a war has started, or economies are crashing or the climate is taking a turn for the worse, or someone’s been silenced by some government or somebody’s done something sleazy and gotten away with it, someone’s innocence has been lost, someone’s betrayed their own values and sense of self, someone’s lied, someone’s lost a friend, someone’s lost a child, someone, something. And somehow we react to these things, or to anything that rubs against us in a way we feel.
We shout over a beer in a pub.
We make a donation to a charity.
We work hard that whole day so that our work takes up our whole brains and leaves no room for thinking.
We attend a protest.
We blog or we tweet or we spend an hour or two Googling news stories.
We move our bodies – weed the garden, go for a bike ride, go for a run.
We call our grandparents.
We make theater.
We need to know: Do we make theater because it’s fun, or do we make it where someone else would holler at friends over a beer?
You know, every little action is a part of the world. At some point the world got really big and we can’t measure the effect our actions have and all we can do is respond to the events of our big unwieldy world honestly, with humanity, and in the way we know best. I refuse to call theater ornamental. At the least, I refuse to accept it as any more ornamental than anything else we do that isn’t breathing, eating or sleeping.
If the world works by chaos theory then who knows what theater does to humanity’s fractal?