Why I Love Theatre

essay

In Stage Directions‘s May issue, editor Jacob Coakley included part of his keynote speech for Texas Nonprofit Theatres’ annual conference, with the full text online, of “Why I Love Theatre”.

That, combined with my latest project for KC Stage of getting short (30 – 60 second) videos of local performing artists talking about why they do what they do (see Kelly Farrar’s answer on our YouTube Channel or on our Facebook videos — feel free to post your own and let us know about it), has made me thinking lately of why I involve myself in the world of theatre and performing arts.

It’s not an easy answer, and involves a bit of history on my life.

I remember always loving theatre, from when my grandmother would take me to shows at the St. Louis Muny theatre, and I remember always being involved in both school and church-related performances (and for church, Sunday readings as well) because I have a voice that is fairly deep for a woman that easily projects to the back of the room.

Orpheum Theatre from the front of the stage. Photo by Colin Knowles and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, via Flickr.

I fell into theatre into high school partly because I developed a huge crush (as you only do in those teen years) on my high school English teacher (who of course taught drama as well), and had it follow me into college because Park College offered a theatre scholarship that wasn’t connected to me being required to enroll as a theatre major. I didn’t want a major, because I knew it wasn’t something I wanted to do as a profession — I knew I didn’t have the confidence or the talent to be a professional actor, and I didn’t really fall into the technical side of things until after I graduated college.

I guess when it all comes down to it, I do theatre for the same reason a lot of people join the military — to be part of something larger than myself. The sense of accomplishment I get from working with a show — either on stage or behind it — when it all comes together. It’s the same feeling I got as I was working on (and when I finished) my fantasy novel — that I did something that made my life worthwhile.

I love theatre for the same reason I take the occasional break from it — the people. Working with a cast and crew is both the best and worst part of doing a show, as you form friendships with people you work with (and, of course, get frustrated with some of the people as well). I understand completely why Hollywood romances are so quick and so flighty — when you’re working with the same people for several weeks (or even months), you get to see all their good and bad parts — and it can be incredibly intense.

And that’s why I love theatre. If you have your own story, feel free to comment on this blog.