Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Theatrical incarnation


Live theatre, then, of all the arts, may best approximate the incarnational character of our God because of its combination of narrative and performance. A play is a story incarnated in real space and time by real people. … The actors tell the story by becoming the story. [Unlike genres which escape time like painting but also film and recorded music] It is subject to all the vagaries and complexities of life. An actor might forget a part; the timing of curtains, lighting, scene changes could go awry. The story is told in the messiness of an imperfect world, and at its best the live performance of a theatrical piece can bring everyone involved in the play—audience, performers, and stage crew—to a transcendent moment. Such a moment might be reduplicated but can never be recaptured. It, like life itself, is ultimately transient. Every play contains the possibility that it might disintegrate because of external or internal forces. This quality is lacking in film. Even seeing a film of a live performance of a play is not the same as being at the live performance. The risks involved in a fallen world are part of the inherent quality of a live performance.

Todd E. Johnson and Dale Savidge,
Performing the Sacred: Theology and Theatre in Dialogue
(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009), 58-59

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