Ranting With Cyle: ‘When the Show Speaks to Me’ by Cyle Durkee

In our last foray into the philosophies of theater we began our journey into the relationship that we, as people, have with the art that we call theater (and pretentious people call theatre). We began with the story of silence. The moment before. The breath that is taken in and leaves us holding ours as we wait for the show to begin, or the moment to climax, or the revelation to astound us. We are faced with the depths of our own fears and hopes in that moment and we choose which to follow when the words finally begin to fall from the actors’ lips again. So let us continue our love affair with the words. Let’s move our focus not to the mouth, but to the ear. What happens in the moment that we we become receptive to the voices on stage?

Cyle Durkee.

Let’s think about this in the terms of a first date. It used to be that you would call and hear their voice on the phone. Before that you would see their handwriting in a letter or a note. But now, you have enormous amounts of information at your disposal and nothing to anchor it to the person. Nowadays, you’ll text or email to set something up (or facebook, or tweet, or…any other of the plethora of campily misspelled apps) and never have any true personal interaction.

To me this is the same as seeing the posters and the press releases (and facebook posts, and facebook invites, and tweets, and…OMG!… all the other ridiculous social media apps) that are created and crafted by people totally outside the creative process of the show that they are trying to get you to see. You get no personal connection to the actors or the production itself and no real information about the show. Sure, you’ll get the plot points somewhere online. You’ll get a general outline of what’s going to happen and the history of the show, but you won’t get any real idea of the heart or the purpose or the art of the show.

Similarly, you can glean any number of facts about a person from stalking them on facebook (and twitter, and tumblr, and….I need a drink if I’m going to keep up with all this social media BS). And you might even get a tiny idea of what the conversation might be like. But, ultimately, you will have no idea because most people don’t take time to filter what they say in real life the way they filter themselves online (and if they did, saying hello would take 20 minutes while they stopped, erased what they just said, and tried again, only to decide that the first thing they were going to say {which was ‘how ya doin’ [which will never be an acceptable greeting]} was, in fact, the right thing to say).

So, you allow yourself to believe that there will be some connection to the show, regardless of what the marketing department has thrown at you and you take the plunge. You have a drink and you head to your seat and you wait. You wait, as you would for your date in the restaurant that they chose (because you wanted them to feel comfortable), surrounded by people, completely self conscious and wondering ten million little micro-thoughts (will they like me, will I like them, sex {no particular thought, really [it’s just there in there constantly]}, am I dressed right, can I order garlic, do they like monopoly {it says a lot about a person}, sex, don’t think about sex, sex, sex, stop it, why am I sweating so much, is that him, no, it’s a waiter, you must be an idiot, he’s going to think i’m an idiot, sex) every second. This is how you sit in the theater (though the thoughts are probably a bit different) and wait for your date (the show) to arrive.

While you are waiting in that silence the possibilities begin to emerge. The internal discussion of what might happen moves inexorably forward. You think about how they will portray certain characters and what the costumes will look like. You think about how many cell phones will start ringing during the most important part of the show and how many people will climb over their seats to decapitate the person who was stupid enough to walk into a theater with their phone still on. You think of how long you can hold “it” before you have to be that ass that runs to the restroom three minutes before the end of the first act, and whether you should try to slink back to your seat when you are finished.

You come to realize that the silence that has drawn you in and is now holding you in thrall contains every possible outcome to every possible thought. In this silence lives pure freedom. But with that freedom is a stress that is seen nowhere else. The stress of absolute choice. There are no boundaries within the silence. All things are possible because they have not yet happened. You are Schodinger’s cat. And in your box of silence you are all things. And behind the red velvet curtain the show is everything you could possible dream. And the silence is holding even time at bay (I’m sure you’ve noticed that time slows down once you sit in your seat {scientists should really start studying that}).

And then the play begins. And you feel something collapse on itself. You and the show were existing in tandem as probability waves which intersected in a billion different ways. You were experiencing every possible moment simultaneously. And you realize what that stress was. It was the tension of holding reality at bay. You could create anything within the silence. Your date was everything you wanted before he opened his mouth. And then the play spoke. And the probability wave collapsed. And the tension was gone.

And now reality has set in. And this can be magical (or not {I’ve sat through a lot of theater that made me think ‘I would rather be a dead cat in a box’}). As the play progresses, as you have a conversation with the show, it proves to you that it knows you and understands you and respects you. You find yourself drawn specifically to the reality that the show has created because, while silence is wonderful at times, reality is ultimately where we must live. This is when you find out that you have something in common. There is a reason to continue this relationship.

The Audience. Courtesy of http://www.protoast.com.

Yes, Silence can draw you in. It can create a world of possibilities. It can be used to convince or intimidate. But words will create worlds. Real, solid constructs that can support the weight of the ideas that you craft to expand them. Realities that allow you to run and fly and explore the ideas of the show  And as you sit and gaze at this date, as you wonder at how you got so lucky as to find this perfect ticket, you find that you want to share it. You want to show this to your parents. You want to share this with your friends. You want the world to see you in association with this show  Because, like the date that miraculously goes right, this show has a voice which speaks in harmony to your own. You want everyone you know to see it because this show shows a part of you that you’ve never been able to articulate. Your date spoke and you heard a whole new world being born.

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Read other Ranting With Cyle articles.

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