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Have you ever been to a play and walked away challenged? As an actor, we were told that when we are performing Shakespeare, we must make the audience listen. Words are powerful. They can penetrate to the core of our being. In life, we know how words can damage or how words can build us up. I remember playing the role of George in an award-winning play called Remembrance Day. It was a play about reconciliation and helping a teenager on his journey. I remember the reactions from the audience after the show. The play had a huge impact on their lives. Live performance is thrilling. It's an experience. It's a time where young people can lose themselves for a few hours in the world of the play.
The live performance opens the door for discussion. It can be challenging for young people as they face many life choices. In life, teenagers go on a journey from the teenage years to adult life. It may be that they have low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and are worried about the future. Live performance, in my opinion, can have many levels—not just for entertainment.
There is something magical about being in a theatre with an audience. I want young people to have an experience. I want young people to walk away and have something to think about. Watching a character on stage dealing with issues and through the course of the play exploring that issue and coming to some form of closure or solution, may encourage and inspire young people to come to terms with their own problems, it may give them strength to move forward or not give up. This is the power of live theatre.
I know how uplifting it is when I go and see a musical at the theatre. It's exhilarating for me.
I also know how theatre can encourage people who have suppressed their feeling about certain issues, can open up and find freedom.
A play is not just about a group of actors telling a story. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes. There are props, set design, costumes, lighting, sound, PR, producers, directors. It can take weeks to rehearse and even before the play is cast, months of planning. The industry can be competitive but it is rewarding as we all work as an ensemble. It's a work of art.
I think that live performance is an opportunity for young people to think about their own career and journey in life. I wonder if students would ever think about a career in lighting, a costume designer, a director, set design, if they did not visit the theatre.
Why do we write plays? There are many answers to this question. Why did Shakespeare write his? Shakespeare had a lot to say about life and I have been in many Shakespeare plays. Each director will have his own message he wants to convey to society. It may well be the problem with our economy or reconciliation. Shakespeare is still relevant today.
Through his writings that deal with so many issues that still affect us today, he was able to tap into the emotional turmoil that one faces in life. He could turn day into the night through his words. Themes such as Love, Envy, Loss, Sacrifice, Forgiveness, Reconciliation, and much more resonate through his plays. Shakespeare can be fun and teach us so much about our own lives. Let's take Romeo and Juliet. Love is still powerful today. Two people from opposite worlds falling in love—the Capulets and Montagues—reminding us of today's gang culture. Lord Capulet's relationship with Juliet, the protective parent. It's when we go and hear Shakespeare being performed live that we truly experience his language, his stories, his message.
Live performance is not just for entertainment. It can also help young people in their development in life by encouraging them on many levels, whether that be to think about their careers, their own issues, hopefully leading to the discussion or to inspire them to move forward in life.