“What’s The Point?”
by Christine Rodriguez
This past June, I was in an off-Fringe production of a play entitled Callback about life in the theatre written by Bill Svanoe. At one point in the play, Ed, the director, tells my character Judy, an actress, that in his last production, the playwright “kept asking everybody: Will the New York Times like this?” I guess, as the playwright, I’m at that point in the production of The Arrangement wondering: Will The Charlebois Post like this? Will the Charlebois Post even show up? Will anyone show up..?
Such is life in independent theatre in Montreal – the search for that elusive audience.
Such is life in independent theatre in Montreal – the search for that elusive audience. Just a few weeks ago, I attended a show that was highly rated. It was a Saturday night at 8pm, yet there were only 7 people in the audience. I’m not sure how many of them were actually paying customers... This was an important and well-done play. The actors gave it their all. I found the show very enlightening and profound. I really came away with something. But where was the audience?
This begs the question: why are we doing this as artists if few people are ever going to see our work or acknowledge its existence... Actors put in hours and hours of rehearsal, experience gut wrenching moments living the lives of characters going through hell. The director pushes the actors beyond their limits, loses patience. The playwright hides in a corner wringing her hands and cringing at each misspoken line...
The point is we were here.
Later in the play Callback, a disillusioned Ed wonders: “What’s the point?” Judy replies: “The point is we were here. Sometimes we made people laugh, cry, think... The moments we created ripple through the human experience forever.” Food for thought.
I remember doing ‘bookstore theatre’ a few years ago, and one night, only one person showed up for the show. We went ahead with the performance anyway. Why not? We were already there, ready to go. At the end the show, this one audience member gave us a standing ovation and proclaimed this was the best show she’d ever seen. Ah! A ripple. A big one.