A World Theatre Day message from Des McAnuff
The late great Michael Langham used to speak of Shakespeare’s texts as “living thought.” By that, he meant that however magnificent the great works of drama might be as literature and poetry, they are also something more: the world’s greatest record of how human beings think, and have thought since civilization began.
He meant, too, that the thought embodied in drama lives only when it is created anew with each new act of theatre. Whenever an actor takes ownership of words in a script, explores every nuance of their meaning and then speaks them from the heart, in the incandescent heat of performance, then we feel that pulse of living thought, of age-old ideas springing into potent new life to show us the “form and pressure” of our own times.
This ability to bring ideas alive, to stir us viscerally with words spoken in the eternal present as if the thoughts they articulate were forming in the very moment – this is what makes our art unique. This is what gives it its extraordinary power to challenge, to subvert and to transform. And it is this, above all, that we should celebrate today.