The new century has led people in the age of state-of-the-art communication technologies, based on quick growth and exchange of digital information. Moreover, virtual, online communication substitutes many former forms of live conversations and real meetings for the purpose of a sincere and friendly talk. Theatre might have become an instinct form in the conditions of such social media transformation. However, this ancient art does not lose its relevance. Moreover, the situation of spiritual vacuum, created by intrusive on-line broadcasting drives human sights back to the theatre of past, where actors could lead the audience to the exalted revelations. The accessibility of communication created in the conditions of the web chat does not bring people closer. On the contrary, it creates the situation, where people lose the natural necessity to act and move in the direction towards each other.
Theatre critique and director Harold Clurman once noted that “Theatre is deep human communication through the mask of fable”. This expression implies the profound spiritual need of a living soul for the thought-provoking exchange of spiritual energy. The artificially created mask of fable gives space to the imagination and flow of human creativity. The possibility of such effect makes theatre an irreplaceable and unified form of art that reveals depth and entity of interactive communication, leading people to development and spiritual growth.
Theatre as an Art
Theatre is a spectacular form of art, which is a synthesis of different arts. It combines literature, music, dance, singing, painting and others, and has its own specificity. It reflects reality, conflicts, characters, as well as their interpretation and assessment. Approval of certain ideas is going through a dramatic action, and the main carrier is the acting one.
The theater was born out of ancient hunting, agricultural and other ritual celebrations. They reproduced the phenomena of nature and labor processes in an allegorical form. However, the ritual action itself was not the theater. The theater started with the appearance of viewers. It involved not only collective efforts in the process of creation, but also the collective perception, and the aesthetic purpose of the theater was to present a stage action, resonating with the audience.
In the early stages of theater development, people gathered for the folk festivals, and singing, dancing, music and dramatic action existed in the indissoluble unity. In the further development and professionalization, theater lost its original synthesized nature and formed three main types: drama, opera and ballet, as well as some intermediate forms. The theater has its roots in antiquity and up to now, this kind of art does not lose its relevance because of its unique communicative function. It creates the prepositions for revelation in human soul, and this way leads to healing and renovation of reality perception.
The development of theater has always been inseparable from the development of society and the state of culture, in general. It reflected the peculiarities of social development, its flourishing or declines. The prevalence of various artistic trends in the theater was a mirror of spiritual life of the country or community.
Theatre as a Reflection of Culture
The scientific approach to interpretation of the concept of culture is based primarily on the fact that culture is an infinite number of brilliant creations of the human spirit and talent, reflected in higher spiritual values, gained by the human mind.
The theater unites audience and actors, who have already achieved a certain level of cultural development. In the joint cooperation, parties survive the common situation of energy exchange. Both parties are essential because the communication implies sharing. If nobody benefits from someone’s individual progress, the last remains non-tangible and unseen.
Nowadays, the new social structures and technologic achievements have already simulated values that lead to a loss of demand for spirituality. According to the new paradigm, the culture should be aesthetically pleasing and entertaining. People strive towards comfort and getting the desired objects without any efforts. However, the crisis that is an essential part of development disappears. This current situation stipulates the need for the formation of new thought provoking live communication between the communicants. Close cooperation and information links between the theater actors and viewers can contribute to the long-living human desire for revelations and a better understanding of values of communication in the growing generation.
According to Stanislavsky, the action is the primary condition for the appearance of emotions, feelings, perception and revival of a character in actor’s play. The new forms of arts, such as movie and video broadcasting, present a given result, something granted not achieved in the process of work, thinking and creation. The human spirit needs efforts and crises, and the modern reality is oversaturated with the products of art competing for human souls without their participation.
Performing arts, like all true arts, should promote the moral education of every individual viewer. Each spectator who comes to the show has to be enriched spiritually. The theater should help the audience consider different problems of life on various levels, showing the possible ways out of the situation. Such a process makes any theatrical performance an act of communication and contributes to the meaningful experience of one’s personality.
Motives for Visiting a Theatre
Different motives direct people’s desire to visit a theatre. Some want to experience unusual atmosphere of the past and plunge into the refined social environment, others have authentic needs to discover new visions and perception of reality. Theatrical art incorporates a variety of arts that perfectly complement each other.
One can trace that theatrical work is subject to social and cultural situation. Theater is one of the most powerful tools that can affect the perception of the senses, since when coming to the theater, the viewer empathizes with the actors in different life situations. Theatrical art fosters dialogue that helps interpret the current events critically and from new angle of vision. New plays reflect resonant topics and help to revive the sources for combating the time challenges.
The theater develops people’s imagination and the sense of beauty. It contributes to the whole spiritual development and the perception of life through the prism of humor, irony, criticism and hope. People can look at themselves, as if from outside and experience the beneficial effect on the mental and emotional states, performed on the stage. Watching a film gives a complete picture of the scenery and the events background, while theatre focuses on the relationships and emotions, on the art of acting and engaging the audience into a jointed process of emotional exchange. Many viewers emphasize on the inclusion in the reality of the moment, as the primary advantage of watching a live performance. The same play has new interpretations and energy every time it is performed because different people come to see it at different times.
The ability to live a life here and now acquires new resonance in modern relaxation techniques and therapy methods. The modern race for money and profit makes people hard and cautious, and the chance to have a common joy with the actors of the play acquires new meaning. Like an old ritual of sacrifice and catharsis, it purifies the soul from the intrusions of the speedy digital world and helps people free their genuine feelings, desires and attitude to the facts and events.
The suddenness of the actor’s emotions and interpretations encourages the free expression of feelings among viewers. The performers keep the watchers in tension and exalted anticipation for a miracle to happen. They share their concentration on the passing moment and create the situation of co-existence in the same life moment. Generated proximity helps to survive the same emotions as the actors do and feel the freedom from constraining thoughts. People resurrect a belief in miracles and return a certain naivety lost in modern schematic online communication and cooperation.
Theatre heals a human soul on the inside through depicting possible situations in life and showing that there is nothing new in the world. Catharsis comes as a shock of senses and understanding that everything has its beginning and the end. The healing effect of the co-creation during the performance appears because the actors and audience are put in a situation of vulnerability to all the disappointments and emotional stress, followed by the experience of joy in the outcome. The play should rein an atmosphere of creativity, mutual help and understanding between the audience and the performers. It is a unique act of communication through the art of revealing the human soul.
Theatre as an Act of Communication
The main means of stage language in the theater is the play of actors. There are conflicts, characters and atmosphere of human relationships, artificially created by the actor’s personality. The talent of a performer turns out to be the main key to success in the establishment of interaction with the auditorium. The figurative techniques of body language, diction, intonation, plastic, movement in combination with imagination, ability to improvise creates a unique image. Through verbal and non verbal means, actors establish an emotional contact with each other and the audience, forcing the latter to empathize with the actions, unfolding on the stage.
A successful performance can become a unique communication channel, different from the everyday digital exchange of information. The possibilities of artistic language are much more understandable, metaphorical, and emotionally powerful than the spoken verbal means. The theatrical art is complex and affects the mind and soul of a man on various levels. It reflects in personality through aesthetic ideal that appears both in positive and in negative images. Theatre allows people to relive the life of others as their own to enrich their experience. Such participation serves as a therapy that is artistically organized, summarized and conceived by the performers.
The basic principle of the actor’s play is the truth of feelings. The actor has to imbibe and plunge into the events happening to the character. Emotions experienced by actors should be genuine. They have to believe in the truth that they do not represent something but live something on the stage. If an actor can do it live, most believe it, he can play the role most correctly. The acting should be close to reality in order to make the audience believe it. Stanislavsky wrote that every moment on the stage must be sanctioned by the faith in truth of the experienced feelings.
Feelings of an actor belong to the personal experience and the inner world. Any actor primarily explores them and tries to find the right memories in the emotional baggage. The actor has to understand the internal logic of the character, the reasons for the actions, justify every word and every action of the character that is to understand the reasons and goals. This knowledge of the causes, not just the emotional displays, allows the actor to experience the feelings of the character in a new way every time, but with the same degree of accuracy and truthfulness.
A very important feature of acting is the experience of the “here and now”. Every emotion and, consequently, action should be born on stage. In order to be able to come up with the circumstances of the role, a well developed imagination is needed. Another important aspect of the profession of the actor is the ability to control attention. On the one hand, actors do not pay attention to the audience; on the other hand, they should focus on the partners as much as possible, on what is happening at every moment. Creativity in the theater often has a collective character: the actor works on stage together with partners. Interaction with partners is a crucial aspect of the acting profession. Partners need to trust each other, help each other and promote. Feelings of the partner, interaction with him/her are basic elements of acting, allowing interactive communication in the process of playing on stage.
The theatrical art reveals a living act of communication. It occurs only in the time of meeting with the audience, and it is based on the indispensable emotional and spiritual contact between the action on the stage and auditorium. The greatest suffering for an actor is to speak to an empty room, without one single viewer. Theatric art is living, breathing, caring and capturing the viewer into those happy moments when the invisible high wire transfers an active exchange of two spiritual energies from actor to audience and vice versa.
Reading a book or standing in front of paintings, people cannot see a writer or a painter. Only in the theater, a viewer meets an artist at the time of creation. The success of acting depends on the active emotional interaction of those who create the performance on the stage and the audience. The viewers are not outside observers but active participants. Though they cannot express their attitude to what is happening on stage directly, the explosion of approving applause, laughter, tense silence or silent indignation are easily read by the actors. This interaction makes theatre a special place for those who seek for the genuine live communication.