Keep calm, stay seated and applaud? – Free tickets for World Theater Day!
Velvet curtains, classy architecture, champagne at the buffet – that is how a direct marketing treatment would kick off. All you need to do is stay put in your seat, and applaud politely when it's done, like you would an acceptance speech. But is that what theater really is? Could Shakespeare, and a bunch of theater activists be right in asserting all the world's a stage, and all the men and women players?
Is theater just a building?
Every year in Hungary, almost 100 thousand young people participate in drama education programs. Most of these events take place not in theaters, but classrooms. Classroom drama programs (such as those held by the AnBlokk, Káva, or Krétakör troupes) have young people go well beyond the passive role of an audience, being invited to discuss and debate the show, as well as play out their own versions of the situations. Theater is an effective educational tool when we no only watch, open mouthed, at a captivating stage rendition of Romeo, but can actually stand in and take on the role of Romeo ourselves, stand in their shoes to imagine their thoughts and feelings. Drama means play, and here anyone and everyone can give it a try, and ask all the questions you've been holding back. That is the way toward learning.
Mu Theater classroom drama activity
What about those who aren't theater-going folks?
Theater has its place outside the classroom and schools, yet just as the majority of the adult population don't attend theater plays, or for that matter schools, cultural centers and so on. Where everyone does go, and is accessible for drama involvement and play, is on the streets. Many initiatives choose this unusual setting to reach out to people, either those who avoid the usual scenes of culture or who simply can't afford theater tickets. Cilinder Foundation put their plays on in apartment blocks, while Utcaszak use public spaces and rural locations to reach out to the most isolated audiences.
What do pros know that you don't?
Having professional theater specialists lay the foundations is only one way of making theater in a community. For instance, Abakusz troupe was started 15 years ago by a printer and drama enthusiast. They went on to win a number of awards, and many of their students went on to study and teach drama at art school, coming back to teach beginners. With a really good drama group, there's no stopping. Anyone can contribute insights and ideas that even the best directors could envy. Anyone could come up with a punchline to match the greatest comedian's.
Abakusz: Sziporkák (Flashes)
Where can I validate my ticket?
Anywhere you go today. At work while you're all making fun of the boss; on the street as you forget yourself and start singing your favorite tune; as you stretch to your limits imagining the feelings of the rough sleeping homeless person on the corner, or the yuppie parking his spanking new BMW. What could they be thinking, and what would you be doing if it was you? In the evening, turning the volume down on the set and “dubbing” voiceovers for politicians and other talking heads. At the kids' bedsides, reading stories and playing them out, discussing what the hero could do and why.
Taking the freedom to play and considering other peoples' truths, finding the humorous side of something that usually makes you mad, or new ways to make our world more bearable – all this might help us break out of our self-absorbed and reverential passivity of sitting still and applauding in the appointed places.