I am constantly and consistently overwhelmed with people's behavior. Perhaps that is why I became a practitioner of the theatrical arts: to, in my own body, mind, and soul attempt to understand us as a race. As a beautiful creation and a narrowly avoided catastrophe, we live in constant flux and turmoil. From an early age we are taught to think linearly, not just about time and space, but feelings and emotions, relationships and deductions. Our minds are made and taught to box everything in, to sway one way or another, to lean toward black or white, right or wrong. Everything on this earth has a polar opposite, yet as we age we realize that actual shadings of extreme are a rarity and usually the result of circumstances beyond human control. Even in the endeavors of acting and writing, I am sometimes overwhelmed where my creations take me.
The truest and most remarkable assets of my chosen art are also its greatest flaws and fallacies. Theatre is the most mystical and powerful of the arts because the things we try for most can never be attained. Each individual moment can never occur again. Each action and reaction is completely unique and glorious/terrible. Each moment is taken in and judged from each individual perspective in that room. It is completely under control and moments from disaster. This is a direct result of the final collaborator, the audience.
Science is only beginning to comprehend the effects of humans on each other in groups. The most rewarding and frustrating evenings are the ones where audiences respond or don't. We attempt to control the reaction but like cold fusion, the moment things seem repressed is the moment where anything can happen. It is thrilling!!! Yet as we continue involvement in long runs or even long weekends, we fall into our nature and attempt to box things in again. "That was a great/terrible audience." "They got it/they hated it." Great theater can teeter on as little as one reaction.
It brings up the question, is there such a thing as bad theatre? I mean, calculating the sheer number of variables a single performance contains, even the first five minutes of any given show, from minimalist Shakespeare, to grandiose Chekhovian drama, is an infinite and overwhelming task. I have seen theatre that I loathed, but was it really terrible? Was it a bad night? A unique choice of a single performer that set me on edge? Or was it my own exterior circumstances? Maybe a group of fellow audience members were off put and hold such powerful energies together, they affected the entire room! I was trained as an actor to never let the audience persuade your characters judgment, yet this is a hapless pipe dream. Everything is completely dependent on everything else, in the world, and in theatre (audiences included)!
When one ponders the implications of the infinite, something we are incapable of completely understanding, one starts to realize that any show actually happening is somewhat of a miracle. That anything happens is a miracle, for that matter but especially in the art most like life.
In closing, perhaps instead of instantly condemning something, whatever that may be, that we see, we should take a moment and attempt to see the bigger picture, also like life. Let us not relish in our ignorance but enjoy the moments and the process of being a part of something genuinely larger than ourselves. Appreciate being part of a miracle: a bad night at the theater is certainly better than most nights anywhere else... Who knows, you may even enjoy yourself more and in new and unique ways! The catharsis and comedy may affect your life or maybe not. Such is life in the Post-Post Modern World.