If It’s Loudly Sung and in a Foreign Tongue…

Hello Wanderers. Now, here’s the thing. We here at FW HQ tend to have a bit of a thing for the theatre. Musicals, straight up plays, comedies, we have a varying taste of which we take great pleasure from. Even a couple of us like the opera … though granted, personally my favourite is Repo! The Genetic Opera. Rock operas count, people. But I’m ad-libbing here, and really must get myself back on script… Ah yes! The theatre!

There’s something sort of magical about the theatre, especially when you consider the way in which it seems to ensnare us, keeping our attentions glued to the stage for roughly three hours. When it comes down to it, we have to wonder the reason as to why, really, because when you think about it, it’s not like there’s much there apart from a few good props, decent costumes, and good actors. Okay, well, that’s actually quite a lot but I am going somewhere with this, so let me ramble and we’ll get to our destination soon enough.

When it comes to the theatre, there is something more of an acceptable break from reality than we accept from any other form of media. Animals can become real to us simply by costumes or puppetry. We can believe that magic is happening before our eyes, that a helicopeter has landed in the theatre and is ready to take off, taking the male lead with it. Trains can run around a stage singing songs and being in bright colours and … well, there’s a lot about theatre that can be quite silly, when you stop to look at it. But in the context of the theatre, we readily accept it. Why then? What is the reason for this acceptance?

The reason, dear Wanderers, for this acceptance is … is … Actually, I don’t know why it is. I wish, dear Wanderers, that I did and that I could give you this reason as freely as I give you my opinion of many, varied things as you have seen, but the truth of the matter is I can only make … reasonable guesses as to the reason, using some kind of logic and present it to you thusly. And aren’t I talking all posh today? It must be the influence of the theatre bringing my language up to a higher standard than that of what I usually partake in. Do not fear, I’m sure it’ll all be back to the status quo soon enough.

So, the question put to us here and now is simply this: why are we that more willing to suspend our disbelief for the sake of a story told in the theatre, than we can possibly be for other such forms of media that we consume? The most obvious answer would be that, well, we don’t really. We just pretend to because we wish to enjoy the effort that the performers are putting on for us and, really, it’s not as if there’s any harm in pretending. Which is really what acting is if we were to get to a child-like interpretation of it, but there’s truth in child-like interpretations some of the time and I would wager this is one of them.

If asked, I would have to say the reason that the audience is more willing to suspend their disbelief to believe in a show when it comes to the theatre is simply that they are – to an extent – aware of the limitations of the medium, but see no reason as to why that should have any impact of their enjoyment of the show they have paid good money to see. And it would have been good money – for as much as we here at FW enjoy the theatre, we’re very aware it is not something that can be easily afforded, and thus we are always happy when theatre productions become available on DVD, or available through sites like Digital Theatre.

I don’t think I’ve really answered the question. Not to any satisfactory degree at any rate, but then again, I personally can’t find an answer that seems entirely true to any satisfactory degree. We accept the theatre because it is the theatre, and we go to a show knowing full well there will be limitations for the medium, but we enjoy ourselves anyway.

And enjoying your media is far more important than the reasons why you enjoy it.

Z McAspurren

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