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Theater - What Is It?

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Theater can be as realistic as the producers want it to be to an everyday scenario one experiences in their lifetime or just a fairy tale that one wishes to be reality. But it can never be reality itself, no matter how perfect it tries to copy and simulate reality. That's because theater is a type of art that the producer and/or director uses to communicate with a target audience.

As the producer Eric Krebs defines, art is someone's creative interpretation of reality. The arts is a way for artists to express their views in a form that gets a reaction from the audience. Theater is one of the many forms of the arts; fitting into the performing arts category. Thus theater is also a creative interpretation of reality that utilizes actors to display that interpretation. Harold Clurman commented, "Theater is deep human communication through the mask of fable." This comment is exactly what the definition of theater is since fables are fictitious and usually teaches a moral lesson. The audience that watches a performance are watching a fictitious scenario and needs to keep an open mind in order to digest what the show is trying get tell the audience. Audience members keeping an open mind also must be willing suspension of disbelief in order to grasp that what they see fits the reality that is displayed to them. Once the audience can do that, communication between the actors and the audience is possible. Anyone that cannot suspend their disbelief during the performance will not be able to accept anything that the actors are depicting to the rest of the audience.

Almost most performances in theaters, if not all, have a story that will be conveyed to the audience, whether it is a dramatic play, a musical, or a one-man show. But the story is not the only thing that is being conveyed to the audience. Just like how the characters of a fable takes on the traits of their real life counterparts, theatrical shows such as the sung-through musical Phantom of the Opera and the soul musical Memphis are all fictional but still uses historical context to shape the premises of the musical. The actors are all not based on real life characters during the time period but are stereotypical to that era. The scenery and available props and costumes all fit the historical context of the story. They all have actors that can act their roles but they need to be experienced enough to make themselves believe able to the audience. They all have a storyline with a protagonist the audience would support and an antagonist that would cause a commotion. The storyline would contain a dramatic action and tensions that would flow in an acceptable dramatic rhythm until it reach a climax and ends with a dénouement. All this would be displayed to the audience and be become believable so that the audience can understand what the actors are trying to make them see. The audience will cheer when their favorite actor is victorious or be in shock if a death scene occurs. As long as the audience is willing to continue their no verbal communication with the actors, the play can go on.

The main components of theater are what Peter Brook, a British director/theatre theorist summarized: a space, a performer in the space, and someone watching the performer. One of such play is an Off-Broadway production titled The Castle, produced by David Rothenberg, displays that concept perfectly. With just four actors that described their lives as inmates and no extra scenery and props to support them, a theatrical play was born as long as there are people that wish to see the production and there is a place to perform it. This play also makes use of a real life experience to formulate a script and rehearsal to make themselves more believable and the play more dramatic. The point that the producer wanted to get across to his audience was made possible with just the actors alone.

It is not specifically Broadway shows that aim to milk the pockets of its audience members that make Clurman's comment true but the special



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