What is theatre that fits?
by Jake McPherson
Life has dimensions. We are each of us just the right size, and knowing that size keeps us happy. When we lose sight of our size and begin to push out of or contract to less than what we naturally are, we experience discomfort. I am me, and I love me. I know just how far I extend, and I find everything I need to keep me happy easily within reach.
Art has dimensions, too. I believe art’s value lies in reminding each of us of our true dimensions. Many of us think ourselves very small. We are not. We are large and can grasp great chunks of life to fulfill ourselves and keep us happy. We need art to remind us how big we are.
I am a theatre artist. Others are dancers or musicians or painters or writers or a myriad other types of creators. I am happy they know their passions. Theatre gives me breath. When I am acting or directing or reading a play or studying the writing of other theatre artists, I am full. I know my dimensions, and I am very large.
I can touch you with my art. We can make contact. Magic happens in moments of contact.
Theatre is created in sequences. First, there is the urge. I have a desire to touch, and I begin to search for the vehicle that will allow that touch to reach me. I talk to friends about the theatre they are creating. I see theatre. I imagine the possibilities. I allow the urge to grow, and it forms a force that draws more creativity to me.
I begin to study. I feel what’s in the air. I pay attention to the sounds on the street. I listen. I hear. I contact people, other creators.
We are all creators.
I read. I see the words of playwrights, and I make contact with their intentions. Plays on paper are potentialities and promises. The words release themselves in me, and I feel their powers push me to remember how large I am. In my mind, I reach out to the possibilities.
I see forms. A vision shapes itself in me. Ideas are born. A vehicle to contact the spectators arrives.
I contact creators who help me fill my vision with life-giving air. I touch other creators, and they touch me. We are in contact. We share our gifts of creation.
There is some time that passes, during which we all concentrate on creating the vehicle to contact the spectators, and when the vehicle is ready, we call the spectators to help us give it birth.
The creation is born when it is viewed. It is given life when the spectators participate. In being seen, contact is created, and magic occurs.
I need to create magic. I need to contact. I can breathe when I create contact.
In his book, The Empty Space, Peter Brook writes,
The theatre is the arena where a living confrontation can take place.
Contact happens in living confrontation. I believe contact is sacred, and I strive to create sacred contact. When my creation touches another person, a space is created that fills us both. We are made whole. The spectator finishes me.
If I lose sight of the contact I strive for and make theatre for the sole purpose of showing, I cannot make contact. It is mere ego. It hides my soul from the spectator, and when I am hidden, contact is impossible. Magic is impossible. The sacred bond is impossible.
Art that fits creates sacred contact. Art that knows its dimensions can appear very small physically, but living confrontation is always the perfect size. It is just large enough to create a space where we can breathe.
Theatre that fits creates room for people to touch each other. There is magic in that sacred embrace.