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The Importance of Ideas in Theatre

Wichita State University

I believe in the revitalization of straight theatre in Wichita, theatre that is not backed by a musical score. I believe, as well, that it is a mistake to underestimate the intelligence of the present, and potential, theatre-going audience. And I believe that the most exciting productions occur when the director has ideas—or at least a point of view.

I'm not advocating against anything. There is room at the table for everyone at the banquet. There are many audience members who want to see a play delivered to them onstage exactly as they've seen it before--like Grandma's green bean casserole that she makes the same way every year at Thanksgiving. It is important, and people enjoy it.

But I also think there is an audience who wants something more adventurous. They want to leave the theatre still talking about the play, the interpretive vision, and the pieces that comprise the whole. Even when the play is a comedy.

I'm not talking about gimmick theatre, although that has its place, as well. Gimmick theatre is a gesture toward creativity, but unless you actually do something with the gimmick, unless the gimmick informs the director's interpretation of the play, it disappoints.

It is an ephemeral art—that is the gift and the curse of live theatre. It is never the same way twice. It cannot be collected and donated. It cannot be owned and therefore does not increase in monetary value. Straight theatre, whether it is drama or comedy, is the voice of the people and of the moment. Go see a show.