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©2020 BY JENNY LIN

First Step into the World of Theatre

Not coming from a theater background, I found myself putting all my effort in understanding the seemingly abstract and philosophical concepts introduced in The Empty Space by Peter Brook. Yet, it also made me rethink the broadway shows I have seen, while answering the all-time question I have been asking, what does art mean to the society. While The Empty Space was relatively more obscure for me, Visits to a Small Planet by Elanor Fuchs prompted me to think about how deliberately done a show is in a theater. As it says, "everything is intentional."


The most intriguing idea I found in The Empty Space is, if I comprehended it correctly, how easily can a play becomes Deadly from a success. This fine line when a success of a play yield from repetition of rehearsals when designers, directors, and actors learn what they actually want while experiencing the organic dynamic of this party of all elements coming together, to the danger of being unconvincing, or falling into cliche after too much repetition.


What also intrigues me is that, unlike what I thought, basically all parties in a play, instead of being clear of what they desire or certain of what they should do, learn and decide how a play should look like after the first rehearsal as if the play itself slowly unfold its shape and tone.


Furthermore, I was surprised to learn that it is not just the actors who influence the audience, but a mutualism - actors and audience assist each other where a theatre would not exist without one or another. I did not know how much the quality or energy of the spectators could have such huge effect on the performance of the actors, but it makes total sense as the same principle applies between a professional who share their knowledge and a crowd who seeks it.


On the other hand, Visits to a Small Planet got me thinking about all the decision making in everything that is presented in a play, from the lighting, to the costumes, to every side characters' moves and existence. I currently went to see Aladdin on Broadway last Wednesday. Honestly, at first, I thought the whole stage was a little overwhelming to me, as my eyes wonder everywhere where there was just so much happening on every corner of the stage with its extremely colorful and vibrant costumes. I was not sure how I feel about it. I felt it was probably too overwhelming for my eyes to capture what was truly important for the plot. However, it could be what was wanted to be conveyed by the producers, the loud market where something was always going on in every corner. I believe that is one of the most conspicuous difference between a cinema and a theatre. A film helps you focus on the main storyline, eliminating the potential distraction for the audience; while a play presents a world that has its own characteristics, displaying as much and as detailed as possible to complete this world on stage. I am sure every single thing I saw on stage of Aladdin was made with deliberation, probably wanting me as a spectator to feel a certain way unconsciously.


In my opinion, it is exactly because there is so much going on in the world or the planet on stage, just as our real daily life, that it is possible to miss some details. Yet, for the exact same reason, it is why a play is worth to be watched over and over again to discover what was there but I did not catch.