Main "I have a confession to make," said an educated, intelligent, thoughtful, soulful, artistic fellow. "I hate to say this to you, but I hate theatre."

It was a surprise to hear, but I'm always glad for candor.

Why Do You Hate Theatre?
"Because it's an artistic fraud," said my friend. "I mean, I just keep thinking: just who the hell do these people up there think they are to pretend to be other people? I'm not convinced for one moment. I just can't see past this. I wish I could."

You Know, He's Right
I'm one of Those People Up There and, believe you me, I'm often wondering, "Just who the hell do I think I am?"

But I love theatre, even though — as an actor — I am perpetuating a fraud.

Hey, I could argue that it's not fraud:

Because the script is more thoughtful and, er, scripted than life itself — and because the actors and director and the stagecraft are so deliberate — more than people in real life — I could argue that Life Imitates Art. That theatre is true life. That life is fraudulent.

But you wouldn't buy it. So I'll spare you and me both that awkwardness.

I feel my friend's pain. I spent 25 years — after acting in college, including eight years living 50 blocks from Broadway — unwilling to see theatre. Not because it was a fraud. But because I feared for the actors — that they might "go up" on their lines and drop character. And the fraud would be revealed.

The fear of other actors potentially forgetting their lines kept me from going to the theatre for decades!

So How Can This Fellow Learn To Love The Theatre?
Ian Short, the director of Our Town, The Odd Couple, this June's To Kill A Mockingbird and scores of other plays in this town says:

Acting is making choices.

If you can't leap over disbelief, this is the key to enjoying theatre.

After all, that's what acting is: the making of hundreds of choices. How will the actor choose to move and speak? The lines are scripted. But everything else is a choice. Gently guided by the director, amplified by the sound and lighting experts, draped by the costume designer — hundreds of choices for you to enjoy or question.

How Can You Prepare?
First, get a copy of the script. Here's the classic version we are using for our June 24-27 performances of To Kill A Mockingbird. It's short. An easy read. And, like the movie, very faithful to the original text.

Read the script three times. Once, quickly for the structure of the play. A second time, closely, to savor the language. A third time, thinking of the choices you would make.

Then come to the performances. (Bring your script for reference during intermission.)

Those who don't willingly leap over disbelief have trouble being in a
theatrical audience. This method (coming armed with the script) allows
you to be more of a perpetrator, if not victim, of the theatre. You
won't belabor the question: "Is Artie believable?" because, of course, I
cannot be believable because we are friends. But you will be able to
wonder, and perhaps appreciate: "Artie did that? And Scout did
? Ha!"