“We never ask a play to find a cure for cancer or develop a sustainable energy source, but we routinely expect the theatre to change the world. Sometimes I wonder if this isn’t down to stubborn, residual puritanism: we want the theatre to change the world because that would give it a reason to exist. Beauty, pleasure, stories, metaphor – mere delights are not good enough for us.”
I find this quote to be interesting. I guess I agree, to a point. I mean, I’d love to say “Hey, check me out. I’m changing the world!” However – let’s face it – our footprint in today’s world is such that our plays are probably not going to be seen by enough people to cause a tidal shift in politics, or public opinion. Does that mean we shouldn’t try? Nope. And, in truth, as someone who makes theatre for a living, I have no problem with doing it for the sake of “beauty, pleasure, stories, metaphor.”
The big response that I have to this quote, though, is that I do think that theatre can change PEOPLE. Maybe not the world (not in one big sweeping move, anyway), but if we can help a couple of people per night see their world in a different way… empathize with someone else, remember that life is about the people in their lives, ask a question they never thought to ask, laugh at themselves in a way they haven’t ever done, weep and release something they should’ve released before…
If we can do that for one or two people a night… might THAT change the world?