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MJ Smith
Gabriel Carter
English 101
22 October 2017

The Audiences Invisible Pressures

Theatre is a place of release and escape, stories told on the stage meant to entertain and

take the audience away to a whole other dimension. As Heinrich observed, a prominent

Broadway director, the theatre is without a doubt a pillar in any society Within four months of

its foundation, for the first time in history the state recognized the drama as one of the sinews of

the national soul, and this was the most important thing that had happened to the British theatre

since the birth of Shakespeare (61). These well-known truths about the theatre, while true, are

only a fraction of the full picture. There is so much more to the theatre than the audience member

knows about, this lack of knowledge leading me to my hunch, the untold story of the actor; that

the theatre is an escape, and that once on the stage in some ways it becomes a trap, the invisible

pressures of the audience creating a place where it is easy to hide and avoid the reality of life.

The actor holds the most forgotten and scrutinized role in the theatre. In an article

analyzing the everyday life of the actor, Conrad states I am an actor and I live in the world of

pretend in my working capacity (111). The theatre is as much an escape for the actor as for the

audience. Although the actor is working, there is an experience, an exchange between the people

sitting in the audience and those standing on stage that is rarely acknowledged, causing actors,

especially on the stage to feel alone and left to deal with personal problem they have in the dark

shadows where no one can see. There is a disconnect today where society views actors as

something other than people, disassociating them from just another person who has feelings and
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emotions too. This is a serious issue that needs to be dealt with, for the work of an actor is taxing

and giving so much of themselves leaves nothing left afterwards, which results in a decrease in

the value of their personal life which leads them to escape on the stage even more, a never-

ending cycle.

Bringing up this idea of the decreased value of the personal life that all actors experience,

aside from the theatre there is a whole other life the audience never sees the actor live. The

layered lives of actors are never really discussed or deemed appropriate for conversation. Society

needs to see that, yes performers place all of themselves on that stage for the audiences

entertainment but they also seek acceptance and understanding, something that when searched

for in our past is almost never found. This escape to the stage is so dangerous for the actor

because of this pressure that actors feel to not deal with what is wrong in their lives and just

perform. Wilshire wrote of theater as a fictive variation of existence (170). The interviewed

actors spoke of living in the world of the play (Wilshire 170). It is that pressure that the

audience places with their naivety that forces the actor to push things down and to present this

perfect presentation of themselves when underneath they are anything move farther from being

anything close to ok.

Of course, there are always two sides to every argument. It is easy to find theatre

professionals who say that there is no disconnect and that if there is a disconnect the advantages

of theatre outweigh any damage that the disconnect places on the actor. Recently, a study

involving 50,000 audience members conducted by the Huff Post showed that both an active and

passive involvement in performing arts (as an actor or as an audience member) promoted

feelings of wellbeing and happiness; revealing that participation was associated with good

satisfaction with life, low anxiety, and low depression in both genders (Huff
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Although this may be a true statement, it does not warrant the ignoring of an important part of

the theatre world. To say that it is not a warranted statement is to say that basically the ends

justify the means which is not true at all.

In conclusion, there is so much to the theatre that is never seen. Yes, it is a beautiful

exchange of stories from the hands of the actor to the audience, but there needs to be a

realization of the role the theatre plays for the actor as well. When we really stop to acknowledge

that the actor uses the theatre as much for escape as the audience, only then can progress be

made to lift the actors up instead of trap and push them down. Sitting in the theatre looking at

the curtains, rarely does the audience realize the duty of the curtains; they both protect what is

behind but at the same time they sustain the hope that what is secret behind them might be

revealed at any moment. That is also in a way the responsibility of the audience, to allow the

actors to express and tell the stories, but also to protect and support them in their endeavors,

because it is never truly clear what they are running from.

Works Cited

Corr, Katy. Save Our Souls: Why Theatre Is Good For You. HuffPost UK, HuffPost, 30 July



Doyle, Charlotte I. Multiple Realities: The Changing Life Worlds of Actors. Journal of

Phenomenological Psychology , vol. 47, 2016, pp. 107133.

Heinrich, Anselm. Theatre in Britain during the Second World War. Cambridge University

Press, Feb. 2010, pp. 6170. .

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Leffel, Gregory. The public of a missiology of public life: Actors and opportunities.

Missiology: An International Review, vol. 44, no. 2, 2016, pp. 168179.