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March 19, 2008


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jen thomas

What a great topic, Isaac. Joseph Campbell has said that the most important psychological and social function of myth -- or archetypal forms -- is to foster the centering and unfolding of the individual in integrity with the self, culture, the universe and what we may call God. Given this understanding, archetypal forms can be seen as a vehicle for healing and personal transformation.
Yes, for me, and when it's "right", theater can be an almost holy experience. My greatest example to date was doing Mac's 'Universal Robots'. I think I could safely speak for everyone involved in that piece when I say a communion took place between the artists and the audience. Short of sex, there is not anything I can compare to the powerful feeling and energy that is created in live theater.


I don't know how apropos this is, but I sent a letter to the Times today about the Sunday Arts and Leisure article on unseen off-stage characters in plays recently running, such as Doubt, or currently running, such as Crimes of the Heart or Cat on a Hot Tim Roof. In it I think I touch upon the value of theater, at least for me:

"I enjoyed Stuart Miller's piece on the unseen, unheard-from characters populating many of the plays that have been seen on New York stages of late. However, I was a bit perplexed that the use of such a tried-and-true theatrical device was considered newsworthy at all. As a playwright who has been writing for about two decades, the idea of a character who's never seen but only referred to is a fundamental tool of the dramatist, one I keep reaching for with nearly every play. Indeed, it is the unseen character, the unseen location, the unseen but clearly remembered incident, that the audience only experiences through characters' dialogue, that makes theater a world apart from its electronic cousins film and television. The idea that there will be important people, places and things that the audience will see not with its eyes but with its imagination makes the form truly exciting for me. It is a frank admission of the artifice of the enterprise, as well as a plea to the audience to be involved as active collaborators in the theatrical presentation, not just a passive group of onlookers watching some strip of celluloid unspool before them."

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