Why Theatre Matters

By Tyler York

Theatre stimulates the mind and spirit. Theatre gives back to those who participate in the process. It also gives to those who engage on other levels: audiences, supporters, and advocates.

The short video, Stage Matters, presented by Theatre Communications Group, a national organization devoted to promoting professional not-for-profit theatre, challenged me to consider if and why theatre matters.

As in any art form, theatre matters for a variety of reasons that depend on your perspective and experience. For me, theatre matters for emotional and intellectual reasons. As both an audience member and a theatre professional, I yearn to be challenged; I seek theatre that expands my understanding of the world and makes me question my personal point of view.

Theatre serves me, as an individual, in an emotional and intellectual way. Equally important, theatre also serves the greater community. Theatre has the ability to have a profound impact on the community that surrounds it.
Locally, when I consider the work being done in Boston and the surrounding communities, I naturally turn first to the major players, such as The Huntington Theatre Company, which must be commended for its breadth of additional programming designed to explore the context of the works being presented on stage, and to the American Repertory Theatre, who has a reputation for pushing its audience to step beyond their comfort zone and experience theatre in new ways. As an example, think of the A.R.T.’s production of the Punchdrunk theater company’s, Sleep No More, which was a multi-sensory adventure that went far beyond the typical theatre experience.

When thinking local, I also consider the smaller players. While by no means a small organization, the Citi Center’s education program, City Spotlights, jumps to mind as a shining example of how theatre is being used in Boston neighborhoods to build community. The program utilizes performance workshops, neighborhood ensembles consisting of intergenerational participants, and internships for high school students to explore important themes like violence and cultural identity. Another example, a favorite of mine, is Girl Talk Theatre. Girl Talk uses theatre to nurture and empower homeless, poor, and marginalized women.

These organizations and countless others are enriching the cultural dialogue of our community. Theatre does matter.

About the author:

A mid-western transplant to Boston, Tyler graduated from the BFA Stage/Production Management program at Emerson College, where he is now on staff as the Assistant to the General Manager of Emerson Stage . Tyler is also a consultant for Boston Lyric Opera’s BLO Bunch, a ticketing and social networking program for students interested in opera.

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