Why Do You Do Theatre?

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I started this blog as a way to justify my major to other people, but today I’m finding that my biggest challenge might be justifying it to myself. In light of recent events, and some assigned soul-searching in Movement For The Actor, I’ve been tossing some questions around all week: Why do I do Theatre? Why does anyone?

Monday’s class of Viewpoints began with a routine breathing exercise, and something new. While we settled down in a circle, Lane Savadove posed a relatively simple question. “I want you to give this some thought. I don’t want any deep, spiritual garbage, I’m asking for your honesty. Think about it a little, and speak when you’re ready. Tell me, why do you do Theatre?”

The answers were surprising. Were there some garbage answers? Of course, but there were a lot more “I’m afraid to be alone”s, “It fulfills me”s and “It’s the only thing I’m good at”s. It’s the only thing you’re good at? You’re doing this because everything else kind of just failed you? That’s one ugly answer, but it’s definitely honest.

I realized everybody was listing the reasons why they first got into acting, so I played along. “I was fifteen, my parents hated each other, and I needed something to do to get away from both problems. And I just wanted people to see me.” Pretty ugly.

We’re often reminded to hold on to these answers, and the ones that later develop, for the tougher times. I’m looking forward to finding more depth, but until then, I’ve been pondering my own dedication. In all of this mess, through all these tough times, still, why Theatre? Here’s something I realized: you have to love it.

I’ve met some of the greatest people in my department, and I’ve met some of the worst. I’ve come face to face with the most cutthroat comments and actions that I hope I’ll ever witness. Does everybody live by an actor’s code of ethics? No. Is everybody going to judge you fairly based on your talent alone? Of course not. Will you be back stabbed? Unavoidably, yes. But if you love it, you’ll find a reason to pull through. You remember the compliments, you remember the thrills, you remember how nothing else makes you this happy. You turn failure into motivation, and you keep going until motivation turns into success. It’s not always this bad. And when it’s bad, it’s worth it. Because you love it.

I asked a few others the same question – “Why Theatre?” Sophomore double Art/Theatre major Joe Napolitano answers, “It encompasses so many mediums of art and blurs the lines between them.” Junior Tyler Garamella contradicts that with, “It’s a medium of art that has a unique ability to keep people in the moment, as opposed to transporting them elsewhere. It’s storytelling, and it’s self-expression.”

All this brings me to one question: How much do you love whatever it is you’re doing? Would you fight for it if it didn’t love you back?

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