“I regard theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being” –Oscar Wilde
Live theatre is an important part of society as its unique, temporary and engaging format provides an experience like no other.
The temporary nature of theatre separates itself from other art forms. The rehearsal process means that performances are constantly evolving and improving. The play you see one night will never be the same again. Sitting in the front row of STC’s Switzerland, watching Sarah Peirse deliver her haunting monologue, I was reminded of the difference between television and theatre. Television actors perform behind an unengaging screen, whereas in theatre, the “fourth wall” can be broken at any moment. In a play, anything can happen. This excitement engages the audience, more than the passive viewing of other art forms. While films are re-shot, edited and timed to perfection, the theatre actor is given one night to deliver. Prior to a show, my director once told the cast “Although you’ve done this many times, tonight is the audience’s only show”. The fleeting nature of theatre requires memory, not digital recordings, thus making it a timeless medium.
Theatre combines the best of literature and visual art. Through the use of dialogue, theatre utilises the thoughtful way in which authors convey thematic issues through motifs and language techniques. However the impact of theatre is not purely oral. Set, lighting, costume, casting and physicality all play an integral part. For these reasons, I agree with Oscar Wilde’s argument that theatre is “the greatest of all art forms”, as it combines the academic flair of literature with the visual engagement of art.
Storytelling is an intrinsic part of humanity. Although mediums have varied throughout time, the passing of knowledge from one person to another has remained a consistent part of history. Be it the oral storytelling of the Aboriginal dreamtime, or the earliest form of theatre led by the Ancient Greeks, storytelling is, was and always will be important to humanity.
Live theatre is both important in society and the greatest of all art forms, as it’s the most intimate and engaging method of storytelling.