If you have been reading my posts, you will know 2 of my loves are books and theater. They are a natural pairing given that many plays are based on books, and some books are based on plays. Also they both transport us into another world.
When reading a book you alone travel to the world created. In theater, as an audience member, you travel with the other audience members to the playwright’s vision. The difference in theater is when you are part of the cast – your journey is different than the observer’s.
For an actor, you immerse yourself in your role – becoming part of the story that unfolds. For a director, you are immersed so completely in the telling of the story and the details to bring it to life that you are grounded in the this world instead. The crew is firmly grounded in the details – lights, props, costumes, sound – to such a degree that they don’t have the luxury of the journey.
Why do I call it a luxury? When you immerse yourself in a story and shut out the real world it is a luxury. I call it such because many people cannot take the time to become one with a story in that way. Perhaps when watching a movie, a play/musical or a television show for a brief moment they can. But too often we multi-task when watching something on our televisions – playing games on our mobile devices, checking out our social media feeds, catching up on work, cooking a meal, etc. To totally and completely stop everything else you are doing and become one with a story, that’s a luxury.
Books and theater do more than just tell a story, they can also teach us valuable information. Recently, a local theater staged a show regarding human trafficking. Another is about to tackle racism. For books, aside from textbooks, the nonfiction books explain and showcase real life events and issues that need to be told. These are not light fun topics. These productions and publications are done to enlighten us. To challenge us.
One of my favorite things would be plays based on books – classics especially. Little Women (a personal favorite), Pride and Prejudice, To Kill A Mockingbird, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. and so many more. These help bring classics into the modern era to remember the stories and the lessons in them. When I was a teenager a local theater would produce various Shakespeare plays for students to see – staged in the round as it was done in Elizabethan times – during the day. They brought to life stories that could be lost on a modern generation.
If you are not one who enjoys reading books, try seeing some live theater. You may find that theater can be more than just light entertainment or something to endure. Community theaters typically offer shows that aren’t always as “mainstream” as Broadway, something that may surprise you. One local community theater has recently staged Evil Dead and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, including all of the blood and gore. There’s always something for everyone.
Our community theater, Reedy Point Players, has Shenanigans: A Pirate Cabaret in production currently. This show is a variety of pirate themed songs, jokes and stories. The next production is Titanic: Tragedy and Trial. The first half of the play is vignettes of passengers talking about life aboard the Titanic up until the sinking. The second half of the play is about the senate hearings that occurred days after the tragedy. As you can see, we are a theater that believes in variety.
Books and theater can give you that break from the grind of the every day. They can be a respite from the heavy burdens we all have in life. Their stories can give you hope when you feel hopeless. Their stories can make you step outside of your comfort zone and challenge you to see the world through someone else’s eyes. Their stories can help you grow.
My challenge to you all is to read a book on a topic outside of your norm and to see at least one play at a local theater. You may find you like it.