What is the theatre?
The theatrical literature has many deﬁnitions of that word, but here is one used by my master Stanislavsky which served as a corner stone for the entire theory of the Moscow Art Theatre School: “The theatre is the result of that natural striving of mankind to correct and improve the reality.” The theatre creates an imaginary but beautiful illusion instead of
an unsatisfactory reality. The theatre in all its aspects and manifestations (that is: games, dancing, parades, pageants and whether it be a circus-tent show or a religious mystery play) has for its motto: there is something which is better than the ordinary, every day life – come and watch it! This call is so powerful and answers so strongly to the natural needs
of mankind, that all the ﬁrst performances in the whole world are overﬂowing with an eager and, generally, well disposed crowd that is ready to absorb everything oﬀered just like a child waiting to be presented with a new toy. But often, mostly because of the producers’ ignorance, the theatre goer
is witnessing a performance which is not better but sometimes even worse than reality. In such cases the spectator gets bored, dissatisﬁed and leaves the show quite disappointed … and waits for another chance to see a performance that would improve the reality. People often say: “I want to relax – let us go to the theatre”, or
“I feel so lonesome – let us see a show” – or else “let us see John Barrymore – he is a wonderful Hamlet.” In other words, most of the people go to the theatre in order to rest, for diversion, to see an impersonation of some ﬁctitious character – to get away from reality and our every day life. The theatre is the real enemy of the humdrum actualities of life. It
shows our life in the past, present or future, but always better and more beautiful than it is in reality.