At times, I feel like I’m stuck in a time warp. While I wish it were as entertaining as is it in Rocky Horror, I know the reality of the situation just isn’t so. Life is inherently stressful and as the over eager freshman, I keep catching myself trying to accomplish everything in my first semester, from joining endless clubs, auditioning for everything, and cramming as many classes as I can into my schedule. Sometimes I’m homesick for my native foods, darling pets, and aesthetics of home. Especially with the recent plague spreading around campus, I miss my family taking care of me when I’m ill. Obviously, the transition from high school to college is different for everyone, but I think the stress among the freshmen class is a homogenous sentiment. Adjusting to a new life and expectations can be overwhelming. However, everyone also has their outlet, something that makes them irrevocably happy and melts the stress away.
For me, I have a theatrical vent. Theatre, in many regards, is the ultimate therapy. It forces you to evoke emotions you never want to feel again. The script demands it. The director demands it, the rest of the cast, the stage manager, and, above all, the audience. Every heart break, grievance, tear, scream, whimper, sigh, smile, laugh, any emotion that you’ve felt before will be brought out during a career. Theatre forces you to rethink your sentiments, which is maybe why I find it so curative when difficult situations arise either regarding school or personal affairs. It requires that I reconsider my experiences, relive them if you will, and somehow by doing that, I leave rehearsal with a better understanding of not only my own circumstances, but also of myself as a person.
However, there’s an intrinsic fear that comes with these demands. There are feelings that I never want to experience again, but I know that it’s very likely theatre will ask me to do that, and I will willingly offer my emotions up for the sake of the show. Artists do this all the time in visual and other performance arts, but in theatre, you do it publicly and naturalistically for an audience to applaud and enjoy themselves. Yet, that audience will have no idea how much it took to make yourself so vulnerable.
Every time you have a new costume, you shed another layer of skin, becoming more emotionally naked.
Every time a new script is handed to you, you lose a piece of privacy.
Every time you have the chance to tell a story to an audience, in some ways, you’re also telling your own.
Theatre is arduous and emotionally tolling, but it might be the greatest form of story telling because not only as an audience member do you give up two hours of your time to feel emotionally challenged, but you witness a character feeling the same way as you and an actor who has given you the privilege to see into their past.
Tolstoy said that art should make the audience feel a collective and homogenous emotion that the artist was feeling when as he was creating his masterpiece. Theatre does exactly that: embracing emotion and relating on the simplistic level. For those two hours, you are connected to the actor, the character, and the rest of the audience, forming a community of emotion that only these people will experience in that single show.
That is art.
That is theatre.
This is why I love it.
And, with the second week of midterms coming up, take a little dance break with Tim Curry.