Five walls of theatre

Modern theatre is trapped behind five walls, all of which need to be removed:

The first is the wall between the individual actor and the actor's self-as-instrument. This is a relationship full of paradox, and so difficult to solve without falling into either self-doubt or narcissism.

The second is the wall between the actor and the material, the character, the text etc. Here the work begins with identification and transformation, and leads to questions of responsibility and a sense of ownership of one’s creation.

The third is the wall between the actor and the partner on the stage, the other actor. To really listen and share, even while under the pressures of performance, takes great courage. The other actor must be allowed to be more than just a piece of stage furniture that happens to talk.

Next is the well-known fourth wall between the actor and the audience. As Peter Brook says, the essence of theatricality is “Of course it is not real.” To respect the audience is to recognize them as active participants in an act of the imagination.

And finally the fifth wall is that between those people who habitually go to the theatre and those who do not. If the fifth wall is to crumble, the other four will have to fall first.

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Jonathan Paul Cook © 2010