A-m (umopapisdn) wrote,

One more scrap, then that's it for tonight. You probably know that I never finished my English Literature degree at Queen's. I just wasn't feeling engaged by my classes anymore... so I set off to do other things.

I was never a very strong student either. I got mostly mid to high 70s. I just stumbled across one paper that I truly enjoyed writing, and which I actually received an A for writing. The assignment was to write an Assertive Essay. I had to agree or disagree with the following statement: "A play without performance is nothing!"

I decided to use an analogy to prove my point, and came up with the following:

Shake n' Bake: A Recipe for Performance Theatre

For an amazing chocolate cake:

1. Grease and flour a 24 x 30 cm cake pan.

2. Preheat the oven to 180C.

3. Sift: 2-1/2 cups plain flour, 2 cups sugar, 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt.

4. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well until smooth: 1/2 cup cooking oil, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 2 tablespoons vinegar, 2 cups cold water

5. Pour in pan and bake at 180C for 35 minutes. The cake is ready when it bounces back to the touch, or when a toothpick comes out clean.

If you have ever eaten chocolate cake, then reading a recipe for it has a certain appeal. If you concentrate very hard you can probably imagine all the ingredients lined up on your counter. You can visualize the large bag of flour. You can see the sugar jar. You can imagine a large mixing bowl. And you may remember all the steps, and their proper order, and how it feels to go through all the motions of sifting and pouring and mixing.

You might recall that the kitchen heats to a toasty warm temperature as the oven preheats. You might remember the smell of the slowly baking cake. You mouth may even begin to water. You may even know exactly how to tell the cake is ready. You may have pricked numerous cakes with multitudes of toothpicks. And you may have laid out myriad cakes in different shapes and sizes to cool. You have probably frosted and decorated, sliced and served, plenty of delicious mouth-watering cakes.

As you read a recipe for chocolate cake, this stream of remembrances may flow through your mind; and yet, unless you actually do go shopping; unless you do measure each and every ingredient; unless you do mix and prepare, bake and frost; unless you do go through all the preparations of baking the cake, you can never taste it. Until you have gone through the entire process, until you have baked your cake, you can never actually enjoy it. Your stomach will never be filled on recipes alone. And, the recipe is not the cake. The recipe is a great part in the making of the cake, and the cake could not exist without the recipe, but the recipe is not all that there is.

If you never bake a cake, if you always just read the recipes, you are denying yourself access to more than half of the experience.

Likewise, a play is not complete without a performance. The script is the recipe for the performance. As you read a script you may be able to relate to all the aspects of it. You may be able to follow all the dialogue. You may be able to visualize the scenery, to conceptualize all the costumes. You may be able to imagine yourself within the plot, or as an onlooker watching events take place. And yet, if you are never part of the production of a play; if you never struggle through learning the lines; if you never stand upon the stage as a character; if you never feel the heat of the stage lights shining upon you, or hear the roar of an applauding crowd, you will never have the complete theatrical experience.

It is also possible, as a member of the audience, to participate in the theatrical performance. You can purchase the cake ready made. It tastes just as sweet, and fills your stomach just as readily. A member of the audience is an important part of the performance experience. Without the audience, the theatre company has no way to gauge the success of its endeavour. After slaving over the oven for hours, or wrestling through rehearsals for days, it is satisfying to have feedback. And this feedback is an integral part of the entire experience. To have someone say "This cake is divine!" or to proclaim "I never saw a more apt portrayal of Horatio!" makes your efforts worthwhile.

So, the next time you pick up a script, indulge yourself. Take the time to participate in a theatre company. You will find you have gone a long way toward filling that hidden hunger you have carried far too long. And if you have neither the time not the talent to produce a full-fledged production, leave it to the master chefs. Attend a performance at a local theatre. Follow through, and bite deep into the realm of performance. I promise, you won't be able to eat just one!
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