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Hail, Dionysus!

September 5, 2013

My first week back at college, I had auditions and the first chapter of my Theatre History textbook to get through. Ancient Greece! The birthplace of theatre. I’m sure every thespian knows of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, the patron of theatre, the guy that every college student worships Friday night.

I’m always impressed that theatre started as a religious ceremony to worship Dionysus. It was a holy, sacred chorus—two thousand years later, the chorus is a song and dance entertainment. For me, I think that’s really sad, how far theatre has fallen. The Theatre of Dionysus seated over 20,000. The entire polis would come to hear their stories and mythology (in older days, an audience went to “hear” a play. The ancient Greek word for actor was “hypokrite”, which meant ‘answerer’. Nowadays, we see a play, like a movie and television show.).

Theatre today seems like an endless advertisement and entertainments which are constantly interrupted by the ringing of cellphones. I want an audience that comes to hear what a play has to offer up on society! I don’t want to amuse audience members anymore—they should listen and hear what the playwright has to say. I’m done with spectacle—Hear me, Dionysus! I want theatre to be a religious experience again.

…unless I start up a cult, that’s unlikely to actually happen considering the money that those entertaining shows on Broadway make. Still, it gave me some resolve this past week during my auditions. I threw up my hands and some sheet music and said “screw this! I’m not interested in doing theatre that doesn’t interest my soul.”

There will be shows that I will have to do for the money, because theatre just isn’t sacred anymore. There is no guild for the Artists of Dionysus anymore. The next show I’m working on, I’m doing purely for the practical experience, not because it excites me. But I’ve made my oath to Dionysus: I want to start doing theatre that offers answers, not entertainment.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 5, 2013 2:56 pm

    I love this! I’m going to find my own oath to make to Dionysus from this! Thank you for the inspiration once again College Theatre Dork! 🙂

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