Lately, I feel like a THEATRE EVANGELIST! I feel like now more than ever I need to be preaching the importance of STORIES and how THEATRE is so intrinsic to our humanity and to our survival! Times are changing. Because of TECHNOLOGY, the world is different, and because of that, theatre is now more important than ever!
About a year ago, I attended my 13 year old nephew's Birthday party at a big, crazy amazing restaurant out on Long Island. His mother must have spent thousands of dollars for this party -there were maybe 60 people total, and the food was friggin' amazing. The "adults" sat at two very long tables and my nephew and his friends sat at another long table along side the "adult" tables.
I was chatting with my "Father- In-Law" about how amazing the Gnocchi was, when I glanced over at my nephew and this friends at the "kid" table, ...and I was stunned. The entire table was silent. They were sitting around as if they were hypnotized, or newly indoctrinated into a Cult or something, staring into their IPADS and their IPHONES. Every single last one of them! Not one was eating. They just sat there staring, almost Zombie-like into their SCREENS.
If it were 40 years ago and I was 13, I would be running around getting into trouble and then EATING UP A STORM! It was MIND-BOGGLING!
Now, I love my IPHONE and my IPAD. I actually sleep with my Iphone. (Did you know that 70% of people with Smart Phones sleep with them?) But to forsake human interaction at a crazy, wonderful party for digital interaction is frightening. Are we becoming so detached from human interaction because of FACEBOOK, and texting, and FACE TIME? Do we see people more as their AVATARS, as opposed to who they really are? What is happening to HUMAN face to face in the same room interaction? If the next generation totally embraces this digital world, will some of our humanity get left behind?
I just heard about a study on Smart Phone digital communication. The study concluded that people are becoming less emphatic to others because of so much digital "connection." People actually are starting to view and deal with People as if they are just AVATARS, not real, living breathing humans. And who really cares about an AVATAR? That's just a digital snapshot.
Is this just me? Or is this really scary?
That is where theatre comes in. Especially OFF OFF BROADWAY INDIE Theatre like at a place like Manhattan Rep. There is nothing digital here (except the way that I run TECH rehearsals.) It is about people telling other people stories in REAL TIME. Not a story or a game on a digital device, but honest real time stories. And there is something magical that happens when human beings share stories in real time in the same space. There is an energy exchange that happens that is real world MAGIC. And that energy exchange can be transformation and profound. There is nothing like it. Even the best movie can't compare to a great performance of a well put together play. It can be life-changing, but it is ALWAYS life-nurturing for theatre is almost always about connecting - Real people in real time with real people. Humans connecting with humans. In the same place, same time. Telling and experiencing stories.
So if you find most of your connecting in life is online, come back to the theatre. Come tell a personal story or just experience one. Come celebrate human connection again.
And help save Humanity!