Saturday, March 19, 2011

Voices From the Past

I keep journals, off and on. I have since high school. Most of them are fairly unreadable today, even for myself, but sometimes I go back and read parts of them anyway. Generally I skip over my youthful, hormonally induced rants about my insecurities and read the parts that chronicle interesting events I lived through or witnessed.

But tonight I stumbled across one of my more philosophical musings, written almost exactly 17 years ago. At the time, I was describing why I wanted to do theater and direct plays, and I will transcribe it as I wrote it:

I like plays because it's the perfect thing. It exists in one performance. It affects the audience and you can see its effect. That's all it's meant for. All other performances are academic. A book or a painting may have an affect in one hundred years, but what good does that do the author? To write a book you have to wonder "will anyone read it and what will they think?" Then comes "will people in 100 years read it and what will they think?" That's stupid. You can't sit there and watch them read it. I want to direct and see people's responses. Any thought of the future is stupid, pointless.

Then the immediate next section reads:

I like things to have an end. A movie doesn't end because someone can see it again. A book doesn't end. Someone can read it again. A person can stare at a painting for days. A play ends. It may be performed more than once, but it's never the same way twice.

I've been thinking a lot lately about why I do improv, why do I find it so much more satisfying than other art forms, and my thoughts have been running almost exactly along those same lines that I wrote down 17 years ago. In fact, I wouldn't say the above is actually true of scripted theater, but it is true of improvised theater. Simply add the word "improvised" in front of the word "play" above. It's no wonder that I took to improv so thoroughly.