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On Being Worth Watching: Onstage Authenticity and Freedom

Samuel Gold ('11); Arthur Horowitz

In "The Necessity of the Theatre," Paul Woodruff writes, “Theatre is the art wherein human beings make human actions worth watching” – a beautiful yet deceptively simple description of being onstage. Humans often possess an almost innate tendency to monitor their own behaviors when being watched, leaving no room for “authentic” actions – the kind worth watching. Engaging these issues while training in the theatrical forms Suzuki and Viewpoints with the SITI Company, I was led to explore questions of freedom. My work has shown me that theatrical freedom is found not by abandoning structure, but by actively choosing and embracing the structures we inevitably inhabit. This active state is what we refer to when we say actors “owned" their roles. And yet, structures are constantly changing, and following impulse is essential onstage. Can these conflicting notions be reconciled within a re-understanding of structure? Or is this conflict central to being human?
Funding provided by: Pomona College SURP

Research at Pomona