Just got back from the annual PTO play at my kids' school. This is an annual event that both serves as a fundraiser and a way for the grown ups in the school community (mostly parents, but the principal had a role, too) to get up on stage and entertain each other. We're new to the school, but I've been told that this event has been going on for years and years (20 plus?). Two parents write the script and another directs.
We're talking a two-hour show, with a seven piece band (who were great!), a cast of about two dozen (some of whom had to sing). The energy and enthusiasm of the performers came through so clearly, as they performed for their peers and children, in a story that was pretty complicated (about the namesake of our school and a time machine, and two love stories (one between a cave man and an ad exec and another between an exec and a19th century woman)).
The show had joy and music and bristled with the raw human energy that makes theatre feel vital. Sometimes I feel like these qualities end up getting squelched in small to medium professional theatres, where we sometimes take ourselves too seriously and ask the audiences to take us too seriously. And we can't afford a band with three electric guitars and a base and a keyboard, bongos and drums. I got a rejection from a company last week accompanied by submission guidelines that state that they're not considering any plays that require more than four actors.
I know that constraints aren't all bad for artists, but sometimes it's good to be able to just cut loose and play. That's the business we're in after all. Tonight I got to watch a whole bunch of people playing. They had fun and so did I.