By Morgan Flynn
(This blog post is part of a continued series created by our apprentices about why they love theater)
I was probably first drawn to the theatre to satisfy my escapist needs. Throwing myself into roles in high school meant avoiding the trying problems of 17-year-old Morgan’s life. Theatre was a way for my imagination to take flight outside of the conventions of the classroom. Through the roles I adopted I was able to travel to new worlds, sample different philosophies and examine people I would never have the chance to meet outside of the theatre doors. Theatre was a vehicle to expand my perspective. I was bright-eyed and absorbent, letting the theatre work on me.
Then I graduated high school and migrated to the university theatre. This when theatre became serious. Rather than letting the work dig into me, I was responsible for the excavating texts. Deep analysis of beats, units, themes, and relationships; plays became unconquered territories in need of an Honor Student explorer. I sunk the base of my magna cum laude flag between their pages by making assessments on what the playwright was “really trying to say” or the larger statements of symbols of Act III.
Treating the theatre as a form of academic discourse is scary. Losing the intentions of my character under my objective for an “A” meant an abandonment of that initial escapism. The ability to get lost in the work was starting to become lost on me: instead I needed to manage the theatre, get it “right.”
Then I was thrust into directing.
As a novice to directing in my sophomore year of college, I had a difficult time over-thinking the work. That analysis piece, which was jeopardizing my creative spirit, fell away. While working on Venus in Fur in Directing I, I discovered a new color of myself. I trust myself when I direct – I follow my instincts, am constantly inspired by new impulses, and create with an energetic urgency and passion that, I hope, translates to the story. Theatre was digging into me again – I was learning about myself, the pieces I was creating, and the actors I was guiding all at the same time.
There was one new level to directing that was particularly invigorating. While my involvement in plays as an actor always meant expanding my point of view, directing also meant having a point of view. More than simply having one, it meant charging that point of view through the work. One of the major questions we were asked to answer in Directing I was “Why this play? Why now?” Rather than acting as an academic to conquer the play, as a director I was in the rehearsal hall to serve it. Theatre was alive for me again.
Art is still a form of escape for me. But more importantly, art is survival. Art can ask more questions than it answers, and motivate people in our world to seek those answers in their life. And all we have to do is ask:
Why this play? Why now?
*GSC Blog posts are the select opinions of individual employees and may not necessarily reflect the views of Gloucester Stage as a whole.