The Value of the Theater

But no matter how frustrated I get, if I can say it, if I do it in front of an audience, I get some relief. In other words, theater keeps me sane. For me, it is medicine for a toxic environment of electronic media mind-pollution. All that machine/profit-oriented info is poisonous to my inner machinery.

Theater clears my head because it takes the subtextual brainwashing of the media madness and SHOUTS that subtext out loud. (“You are shit compared to the fabulous creatures out there in star-world.” Or “You are ineffectual because the world is too big for you to make a difference.” Or “The solution to your misery is money, money, money!!!” Etc.) Somehow, when I really examine the boogeyman of my inner thoughts, he’s not so scary. (“You are going to lose your job and end up homeless. Toe the line. Toe the line. Toe the line.”)

Theater is ritual. It is something we make together every time it happens. Theater is holy. Instead of being bombarded by a cathode ray tube, we are speaking to ourselves. Human language, not electronic noise. Theater is laughter, which is always a valuable commodity.

Above all, theater is empathy as opposed to voyeurism. All good theater is about imagining a walk in someone else’s shoes. All theater asks the same question: What would I do if were me up there?

I’m pretty sure about all this. What I don’t know, I put in my shows. There’s alot I’m confused about. But one thing I know: Theater remains at the frontier of the greatest mystery – what it means to be human.

Eric Bogosian, from the introduction to Pounding Nails in the Floor WIth My Forehead.