Our Artistic Director, Sean Sears, was asked to share a few thoughts on his take on what theatre means to him...
I want to put down in writing what I think theatre is, and I guess I want to put down in writing what theater is. Theatre versus Theatre, y’know, the RE vs. the ER.
--The spelling thing; I get it all the time. Especially down South. That’s where I'm from. Down South. I had a friend that had someone look at them befuddled for ages when they said they work in theatre. It took 4 tries before they said “oh! You mean Thee-ATE-ER!” --
Mostly, it’s the art vs the space. Theatre, in its traditional sense is made up of the triptych; but instead of Father, Son, Holy Ghost (or Maiden, Mother, and Crone. Hi Mom) we have The Play, The Audience, and the Space.
My vision as the Artistic Director of Throughline Theatre is that it has to have all three to be Theatre. To be Theatre you gotta be doing a Play by a Playwright or you’re just doing something else: Improv, Performance Art, Standup, what have you. It could have theatrical elements- in the same way a recording of all the songs of a Musical is not an actual Musical. It if it’s not a play by a playwright it's not theatre with an RE. I feel that there are only a few rules for it to be a play by a playwright;
1. Anyone, or multiple anyone's, can be a playwright as long as they can in some way communicate their ideas It doesn’t have to be written. Or language. Or words.
2. The ideas inherent in the play have to be able to be performed as they are understood.
The Audience. You have to be doing this play for an audience. I did not say in front of an audience. In the days of Sarah Bernhardt (more on her and her wooden leg later) the audience could be in two types. With aisles in the middle or without. So boring. Without was called Continental and with was called American (who says were the most divisive we’ve ever been, amiright?)
Regardless of how many there are, where they are, or when they show up; someone, anyone, who is not involved with the show, in any way, and happens to see a moment, of any part of the show is; the Audience.If you saw a part of the show you weren’t supposed to see? Still Audience. What if you didn’t pay? Audience. What if the show has caused you such anguish in your normie stale has-been life as you must join the troupe RIGHT NOW!?! Audience; now go practice your 60 second edgy Mamet, Normie™.
Lastly, Space…The final frontier. About 20 years ago doing shows in weird spaces was super cool and fun. The Space, the last part of the triptych, this sacred third of our magical art pie? The only thing that makes it The Space™ is that you have chosen it specifically. In whatever rad space we find this time, in a renovated church, in your front yard at midnight at the full moon? That’s trespassing…but THEATRE!
All of the Pittsburgh artistic scene -Devised works, found spaces, immersive audiences. You should see them. All of them. Its a kind of magic you know. A holy magic. Maybe that’s why it comes in threes.