One Fundamental Joy
Healing the spirit
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois
When things get hairy - health, finances, The Charlebois Post, life, love - I pick up my dog, he glues his body to my chest (knowing what's coming) and I squeeze him so hard he moans. As I loosen the hug we both do the same thing: we sigh. He nods off and I feel the weight of the world melt away.
As everything was coming down on my head last week - deadlines missed, student protests, Syrian horror - I realized that I might break the dogs ribs if I kept picking him up. Then I thought, "Thank keeeeerist for The Fringe!"
Not just the Fringe, actually.
Really great theatre may change your opinions, even, but it never has to go that far - it just has to challenge them.
Yes, theatre can confront you with the social issues of the day (the very ones you are often trying to escape) but GOOD theatre - theatre that isn't preaching to the choir - will turn those very same issues on their ears and force you to look at things from a different perspective. Really great theatre may change your opinions, even, but it never has to go that far - it just has to challenge them.
But that was not the kind of theatre I was thinking of when I rejoiced at the coming of the Fringe. Even as I write this I have just seen (and reviewed) a deliciously awful show that made me look at the nature of solo shows, whether they still have a place in the theatre and if their existence isn't actually inviting every Tom, Dick and Harriet into the house and by doing so encouraging a kind of rot. (Discuss)it wasn't just because it was funny - it was because it was joyful
I also - sometimes (not always) - like theatre that envelopes me like a warm blanket. It embraces the various moods of spectators and, for a little while, reshapes them. It is the theatrical equivalent of ballet where an audience finds itself practically breathing at the same rhythm as the dancers, where the complicty is so complete you almost sway in your seat, leaping in your soul, sliding low, raised high. Theatre like this is inviting, says, "Come on in, we're going to share." You are embraced by it.
Then there is theatre that, no matter your mood, requires you be joyful. Even if you hate musicals, I think (after Glee and Smash) you probably understand the pure joy musicals can cause in viewers open to it. And it doesn't have to be a musical. If you watched the Tonys this year, you saw James Corden do a bit from the comedy One Man, Two Guvnors that was the very essence of theatrical joy. I was laughing my head off at the end and it wasn't just because it was funny - it was because it was joyful. I felt giddy.
From the sublime to the ridiculous, the shared experience of theatre makes our lives better. It's that simple.
It's that complex.