I’ve never been a big reader, but have always wished that I was. The way Hanya Yanagihara, editor of The New York Times Style Magazine, describes the power of a story to take hold of you only reinforces this desire. Our imagination sparked by the what if possibilities that literature affords an author is so exciting. The world that an author can create is truly a testament to the power of the mind and artistic expression. As Yanagihara points out, as an audience we tend be more drawn to stories that are outlandish and exaggerated. They catch our attention because they are different from our experiences, and perhaps encompass that which is not possible for us to experience in our life, making them even more alluring.
She goes on to discuss the art form of theater and what it is that draws us to this particular art form, one of the oldest. Similar to other art forms that we seek for entertainment and out of intellectual curiosity, like movies or concerts, theater offers us the suspension of our own reality for a short time while we’re witnessing what’s playing out in front of us. Like film, theater also affords us the opportunity to watch a human experience as an outsider looking in, removed from the action, but yet feeling all of the emotions of the characters that we’re watching. Unlike movies or concerts though, there is something more immediate and intimate about theater since the characters acting out these life-like scenarios are doing so right in front of our noses and we can literally touch them with our own hands.
What I love about the arts is their promise of teaching us something about ourselves, both about our human nature and our individual complexities, as they reflect back to us a clarity and a challenge that leaves us with more questions to investigate. All at once, this duality carries on the intrigue that draws us to the arts in the first place.