The Tempest’s Itxaso discusses the importance of theatre in our current climate.
The very first time I experienced a theatre performance I was quite wee. What I remember best is the intensity of the sound and the images and a something else I couldn’t quite grasp but that absolutely contributed to the outcome of the evening…I was hooked.
Cut to today and I am not that young anymore (though still very wee), I’ve been a professional actor for almost 21 years and I might have worked out what that ‘something else’ I felt sitting in that theatre in Bilbao actually was: Human connection.
I was there together with my parents but also I was there sitting in an auditorium with a bunch of strangers sharing a space and a moment in time in response to a call from a theatre company – ‘come, we have this story’.
Throughout my journey as a theatre maker I have explored and played with very many angles, possibilities, provocations, dreams, words, sounds, spaces…I have been flying high, hiding below, popping out of nowhere and displaying my character in the audiences faces… Many versions, many approaches, successes and utter failures too but all of it had something in common: it was happening there and then and it will never happen again. Us, here, now, and away.
Theatre, this ritual of gathering to experience a story, requires a very important element which is togetherness. In theatre, performers, crew and audience are ‘together’, connected in that moment in time, everyone involved in the ‘know’ of that connection.
So how can we be together and connected when we are unable to occupy the same space at the same time?
Being involved in Creation’s The Tempest during lockdown brought those questions to the forefront and to start with I must admit I could not get my head round it. Perform together while I’m in Glasgow and everyone else is everywhere else? And, what about the audience? But, how is it Theatre if we are not ‘ here and now’?…well, there lies the very key.
With the cunning use of brilliant talent, Creation and Big Telly devised the very way to show that we can be together-apart. Of course I have been in Glasgow all this time and the rest of my colleagues and fellow audience members were scattered around the globe but for each performance we came together and we recognized it. We acknowledged each other. We were connected.
Through direct interaction built in the performance, the audience could suddenly fully understand that everyone, performers and audience alike, were there at that very moment connecting with each other. No distractions, full attention from everyone for everyone else, totally present. Yes, I know. But we were. All present.
I am not the best at watching recorded theatre. Theatrical language and filmic language are very different things and I struggle watching on screen work that was created for a 1500 seater theatre. But what I struggle the most with is the fact that I am constantly aware that the Human connection, the togetherness, the ‘something else’ is not for me. It has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the people that were experiencing the play at that moment when it was being performed at the time. So what I’m watching feels to me like a ‘canned’ theatre experience. Someone else’s that is, and so, it becomes impossible for me to make it my own experience.
I think one cannot really and successfully ‘can’ that feeling. One cannot really and successfully capture and package that ‘something else’ but one can find new ways to facilitate it, one can explore and apply new forms to allow that ‘something else’ to occur, to allow that Human connection to happen through the ritual of Theatre.
Book our next virtual adventure, The Time Machine | LIVE, 27 May – 21 June 2020, via Zoom. (Photo by Richard Budd 2020)