At its core, theatre is about speech. Fiction has all of the words and none of the gestures. Film has the colossal, pore-revealing closeup. Only theatre gives you complete human beings engaged in complete conversations, not diced up by the page or the camera. Theatre is the social on display.
A lot can cover up that core: elaborate costumes; overly realistic sets; canned acting that blurs the spontaneous interactions between people. An Improbable Fiction strips away these distractions, borrowing from a variety of minimalist movements to deliver “the thing itself.” From Dogme film, we borrow a vow to diegetic purity: with few exceptions, every prop and costume you see onstage comes from an actor’s closet. From Shakespeare’s Globe, we borrow the bare Elizabethan stage: the only set is the one you provide with your imagination. And from Brecht, we borrow alienation: our actors don’t memorize lines–they read, scripts in hand, a constant reminder that the entire show is an improbable fiction, an artifice.
The suspension of disbelief is overrated and perhaps impossible for theatre to achieve in the age of the cinema. We want to force you to believe, to use your imagination. Theatre, unlike the other arts, demands an active spectator. Actors speak to each other, but they also speak to you. Do you know how to hear them?