If you love the theatre enough, it will break your heart. You will find your heart broken again and again if you pursue it. My solution to this has always been to move away in distain, to work, for a while, on writing forms other than playwriting. But always I have looked back on the theatre.
We have it pounded into us that the theatre is only a momentary form of entertainment. This is reinforced even in the way that playwriting is so often taught. Students are given writing exercises. These exercises make them writers “for hire” even at the outset. They are encouraged to do Hollywood-type hackwork rather than write about things they deeply care about.
To the contrary, I hold that the theatre is a sacred place, and that playwrights are the teachers of civilization. More than any other medium, the theatre explores who we are as humans. It should deal with big issues, with deep issues. It should not shy away from life. It should deal with issues that are taboo in our social discussion. Certainly Larry Kramer understood this when he was perhaps the first major creative writer to deal with AIDS.
But a good play can no more be separated from acting than a piece of music can be separated from musicians. Like the audience member, the actor is essential to the theatre. And playwrights should come from the ranks of actors. After all, the processes of acting and playwriting are almost identical to each other.
I’ve come back to acting after being away for a while. I realize the difficulty involved in this work, and the true courage that is needed to be a good actor.
And with this return has come my resolution to take back the theatre from the fools who have so long possessed it. It’s been a long time coming.