Why you should go see a play

Cruikshank Pierce' Egan's Real Life - Drury Lane Theatre 1821.jpg

Many writers, artists, and musicians are also heavily involved/have knowledge of the dramatic arts. I’m not one of them. This may come as a shocker to some, but I’m not particularly fond reading plays. Plays are intended to be performed; otherwise, in my head whilst reading them they just appear as endless scenes of people standing around and talking.

Nevertheless, I enjoy the odd night out at a playhouse. Who doesn’t? Live entertainment is a unique experience. Each iteration of a performance can never be replicated again, and there is an intimacy with the audience even the most poignant film cannot express.

I need to see more plays. Of course, geographical distance, finances, and the effort of getting out of your house are all obstacles you must somehow overcome to see a play. This past year, I had the privilege to see, well, two plays…which is two more than I usually see in a year!

The first one was The Bacchae 2.1 as performed by the drama department of my university. It was both a modern and primal retelling of the classic Greek tragedy. Sensual and crude, colourful and challenging, with a psychedelic trippiness, it had “something to offend everyone” (as a faculty marketing specialist informed me personally). The play attempted to knock down the towers of social gender constructs and did so quite successfully, shock value abounding in the wacky costumes the design team no doubt had fun creating.

The second play was part of the city’s Fringe community—a one-man production on a character’s addiction to virtual reality called Virtual Solitaire written and performed by the talented Dawson Nichols. The performance was breathtaking and superbly impressive, as one actor captured the audience with his ability to interchange between 15-20 different characters. Expertly written, borrowing from both technological and human jargon, I bought the play (to properly digest it afterward), got an autograph, and shook the hand of the talented fellow afterwards. Still stunned, the only thing I could really say was “Um, I enjoyed your play very much…”

I think seeing plays are extremely educational to us writers because they put at the forefront the importance of words, and not just how they’re written, but how they’re delivered. One key thing I learned in first year creative writing was that a play is based on the power of dialogue, while a film is based on the power of moving images. As writers of prose we tend to rely on the power of both. As a writer whose skills in dialogue are not as effective as her skills in everything else prose, seeing plays stimulates the dialogue part of my brain.

Do you enjoy seeing plays? What kind of plays do you prefer, and where do you see them?

IMAGE:
Cruikshank Pierce’ Egan’s Real Life – Drury Lane Theatre 1821” by George Cruikshank – http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O164364/print-aquatint-print-collection/. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
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