(Akhtar’s article appeared in The New York Times, 12/29; via Pam Green.)
I recently learned that a group of neuroscientists have discovered that watching live theater can synchronize the heartbeats of an audience. One of the researchers put it this way: “Experiencing the live theater performance was extraordinary enough to overcome group differences and produce a common physiological experience.”
The living presence of the audience is what strikes me as so singular about the theater, why I love working in the theater so much and why I believe in the particular importance of our beloved form right now.
But first, let me say: I am not hopeful about where we are as a nation — as a species (if I can be so presumptuous). I’m not hopeful, because I am increasingly of the mind that even my hope is being monetized. That which is most enduring, most noble, most human about me — my urge for something brighter, more vivid, more loving, more alive — all of this is being used against me.