NPR recently did an article on how the theatre seems to have more success in portraying the war in Iraq than film. The article asserts that theatre fares better because "theatre is inherently abstract and metaphorical, which may make it easier to confront painful, violent topics such as the current war."
But there is more to it than that.
Theatre is an experience; a word that is used often in this article. We have all the news and information we need about Iraq fed to us from the television, internet, and other media sources. We don't want more facts or moving pictures. We want to experience what is going on even if it is a artistic representation because we have become so numb to the suffering that is going on. Even though these images are piped into our homes and our souls on a daily basis, we want to feel affected so we can remember that war is wrong and work towards eliminating it.
Toward the end of the article theatre is brought up as a means of exchange and debate. Because of the numbing we are experiencing, many of us aren't truly able to articulate how we feel about the war. We may know that it was wrong that we went into this foreign country, but other than frustrated discussions around the water-cooler, we don't know much more than that or what the next steps should be. Our leaders don't seem to telling us a whole lot on what we should expect, so the conversation becomes inhibited. By having a group of people together in the same room, even if they don't all talk to each other about what they feel, the group mentality will encourage more and further discussion while prompting these audience members to listen as well as talk.
Also, we often equate movies with heroism. Movies seem to glorify war and violence. And how can we tell the difference between movies and the violent video games that are being projected through the same television. Look at the number of suicides in Iraq caused from shock and depression - our soldiers are finding out that war is not a game. Theatre makes the violence a reality while at the same time making it, as NPR says, metaphorical so we can process what is really happening while at the same time drawing thoughtful correlations to other events, problems, and ideas.
Happy Birthday: Mary Martin (1913-1990)