Yesterday I met an old friend of mine that I haven’t seen for roughly four years. After a brief summary of what we had each missed out on in each other’s life, we fell, as you do, to reminiscing. After a while we began to realise that each of our most lucid, shared past-moments, were associated with a performance or trip to the theatre. This is not altogether so strange, as we did study drama together, but out of all the non-drama related things we ever did together, it is odd that it is our time spent together in a theatre that stuck.
After saying our goodbyes, I got to thinking about this and started to mentally list all the memorable performances I have seen. It’s also funny to me that I have never thought about doing this before but I was struck by how strongly I was able to resurrect a particular performance in my mind; the inside of my head, a cyclorama of productions past.
I will dip in and attempt to bring one to life for you:
I’m in a forest in Hølstebro, Denmark. It is late August and although warm in the sun, the breeze is chilling. I’m walking in single file, part of a trekking audience, through itchy undergrowth. Everyone is silent and the noise of the forest surrounds us. Light dapples through the trees, splintering into diamond shards as it hits a brief patch of rain. Someone is running around us in the forest, camouflaged in earthy greens and browns, as we slowly come to a stop and happen upon a little scene. Here begins the story of the Red Shoes. We follow the plot through the trees and witness the finale from a cliff top – the performers on the beach below receiving their applause from a raucous sea. I’m stood on a precipice, feeling the wind across my face and tasting the salt on my lips. A little weary, we walk silently back on ourselves and I’m warmed in the knowledge that I have this little snatch of time already captured to take home with me.
Now this may appear rather hyperbolic to you but in reality it was so much more than this. No words would be able to describe exactly how I felt or what I saw but a smugness that I was alive in that specific time and place, prevails. In re-living this performance I can remember every detail; who I was with, how I felt, what I could smell, the sand getting in my mouth, the precise volume of water in the moss I was sat on.
You don’t get this from cinema. All the films I rave about are for technical reasons only; great narrative, cinematography, mise-en-scène. Dark room and pop-corn forgotten. It’s for similar reasons that digital performance just doesn’t cut it for me. Nothing survives outside the box. Theatre is not just a venue or an event, it’s a place to inhabit, a real and private space just like Memory Lane and it’s the moments truly lived in whilst you are there, that transcends its boundaries and testifies, if nothing else, to the power of theatre.
Share these moments with me…