Storyteller Bill Harley recently wrote a piece that caught my eye in which he discusses an early reticence, when working with students, to toward a final product – i.e. a performance in front of an audience. Eventually he comes to the conclusion that a performance “product” isn’t so bad after all, and even helps to motivate the students to work harder.
My feeling is that, much like the old “if a tree falls in a forest” riddle, art doesn’t exist without an audience. A painting isn’t beautiful until someone sees it. A joke isn’t funny until someone hears it. A song doesn’t have a good beat until someone dances.
Yes there’s a process involved in rehearsing a play, but the live performance is part of that process. The audience is the last piece of the theatrical puzzle – an additional vital character, and the interplay between actors and audience is what the whole thing is about. A play isn’t a play until it is shared.
What do you think?