Keep the Drama on the Stage

In the theatre, we love drama. And not just the well-written, Shakespearian period dramas, we love our own dramas as well. Actors tend to be, by and large, some of the most self-involved people in the world ( I should know, I am one). And theatre technicians aren’t immune to this either. Designers, stage managers, and our crews love to play the us vs. them card (I’m guilty of this as well). But theatre people are also some of the most collaborative, thoughtful, and interesting people I’ve ever met. And even though we sometimes like to get embroiled in our own dramas, we have worked with enough people to know that drama should stay where it’s best serviced–on the stage.

Theatre is the ultimate in collaborative arts. It is very difficult to put a show together without collaborating with another person, or many others. Sure, you can do a one-person show, but you would be hard pressed to find one that doesn’t have at least a couple other people lurking in the wings. After all, someone has to turn the lights on.

What is it about drama that draws people in? I’m talking here about our daily dramas, the conflicts we have with others over things big and small. Are we attempting to make our small lives have a bigger meaning? Are we play-acting the roles we see on television, film, and Twitter? Or are we just trying to get our needs met in the only way we know how?

Our own dramas can feel extremely real and important to us. I have often spent an entire evening ruminating over a situation that happened earlier that day at work. I’ve gone over and over what was said, what I should have said, and what I will say the next time the subject is broached. But almost never do these imagined scenarios actually come to pass. Most of the time, the issue is resolved by happenstance, or I find out an angle to the story I didn’t know before, or I just get over it because being angry or sad or defeated is no way to go through life.

Dramatist Sean O’Casey once said, “All the world’s a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed.” Going through life without a script is hard, but that’s the point. Real life isn’t theatre, it’s much messier than that. And as much as I love theatre, I am grateful that every day doesn’t have to be a performance.

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