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Allyn Burrows on Why is Theatre Important


This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Why is theatre important?

To begin discussions on ExploreBostonTheatre.com, we asked Artistic Directors from Boston and New England theatre companies to start the conversation by sharing their thoughts on this question:
 

The past year has brought changes to the national economy which affect the financial health of theatres. We need theatre now more than ever. It promotes the public dialogue about what matters to all of us. Why?

Allyn Burrows, newly named Artistic Director of Actors Shakespeare Project contributes to the conversation.

Allyn Burrows

This is a takeaway question, and I apologize for being so brief, but I’m way too on the inside of working in the theatre to imagine a world without it. So, take away all that society finds mentally stimulating. That includes sports, movies, television, books, theatre, and anything in which we employ our eyes and ears in order to enrich our minds.

Now, everything’s gone, right? Okay, so now start to replace.

Television: good for a few chuckles on the couch.

Sports: good until your team loses.

Movies: big flat screen. (Do those people even exist?)

Books: Ah, well, there’s a certain comfort in having that handed back. Never having the option of reading another story?

Whew, glad that didn’t happen.

Now, you have everything back but theatre. Where is the void? Share a few laughs about how people used to think theatre was necessary? Life continues. But then around a few beers, people start to act out a few stories. Stop right there, can’t do that. No theatre allowed, and that qualifies.

OK, OK so we need to do something in that arena; we can’t help ourselves, so why not, even by default, create the best story telling we can muster and get people to support it because they know deep down that without it, there are gaps in life, huge gaps we can’t even see. Theatre fills in those gaps, makes us reflect on ourselves as humans. Ever seen tiger theatre? Not very exciting.

So theatre works on us in ways we don’t even think we really need until we embark on that gap filled life, with no reflection, no stories, and one less major avenue of exploration of the human condition. And as times get tough, and we need all the more reflection and thought to persist and pull ourselves through, theatre becomes a critical ingredient in that process.

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