Theatre is Imperfect – And That’s Why I Love It

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in.
~Leonard Cohen

Science is finally catching up with art! Scientists are now thinking that for certain types of calculations, computers are too accurate to be useful. Too much processing power is being used to bring about a perfect result. But if you allow the computer to be almost right, then you can get far more efficiency out of a processor.

What I love most about live theatre is that it’s an imperfect non-repeatable unique piece of art. No two shows are the same and not a single performance in the history of theatre has ever been “perfect.” Perfection is something we all strive for but never achieve.

When I’m in a play, the worse thing you can tell me you really enjoyed a certain moment. Why? Because I’m nuts and I’ll spend the rest of the night replaying that moment in my mind to figure out what was so good about it. Then I’ll try to recreate that moment in the next performance and I pretty much always end up falling on my face.

The audience loves imperfection, too. They love being able to say they were there on the night that xyz happened. Some shows even build a faux gaffe into the performance. Two examples spring to mind: The audience participation segment in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (I won’t go into too much detail about this one for those who haven’t seen the show yet) and the long-running comedy Shear Madness where the cast was actually directed to “corpse” during the show.

I suspect that a good chunk of the folks shelling out top price for tickets to the ever-previewing Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark are being let down in many ways, but their expectations of imperfection are being met.

About the author

Craig Mason