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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Why are we humans - seemingly universally - fascinated by theater?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (33173points) August 4th, 2013

And if storytelling can be considered theater, then I believe, it is universal.

Theater is thousands of years old. Storytelling is possibly as old as language. What is it about hearing or seeing others act stories that we enjoy so?

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9 Answers

snowberry's avatar

I’ve not attended many theatrical productions, but I have attended many storytelling festivals. I can think of no other way to touch others in every sense, spiritually, emotionally, and even physically. It’s the best possible way to teach an appreciation for various cultures, languages, races, belief sytems, music, humor, history, you name it. Even Shakespeare. The first storytelling festival we went to, my children were introduced to Shakespeare through a one-woman-play. She played all the characters with just a few props. She was awesome, and they loved it. My oldest child at the time was 12.

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Pachy's avatar

Here are 7 wonderful reasons.

thorninmud's avatar

I’d attribute it to our mirror neurons. When we see others perform an action, or observe emotion conveyed through body language or facial expressions, our mirror neurons recreate in our own brains an actual experience of what it would be like to move like that, or to feel that way. This is a much more direct experience than we get from a strictly linguistic conveyance of a story, because we actually resonate to the actor on a corporeal level.

serenade's avatar

Among the other answers, I’d add that theater presents novel experience for people who crave novel experience. I am thinking of the perennial script question about why “today is not like any other day.”

bkcunningham's avatar

Everything we know about the past is told to us through stories. There is something enthralling about a good story and good storytellers.

LostInParadise's avatar

@thorninmud says why in particular we enjoy theater, but I think that stories in general are how we make sense of the world. Stories are a way of organizing information. If we describe something that happened to us, we tell it in story form. We try to give the story a beginning, middle and end, and describe a coherent series of events,. In particular, emotional responses make a narrative more meaningful and easier to make sense of.

LostInParadise's avatar

It just occurred to me that most of children’s play is a kind of theater. Before they fully develop a sense of abstraction, story telling is how they make sense of the world.

bea2345's avatar

@Pachyderm_In_The_RoomSecond, theatre is a sophisticated expression of a basic human need—one might call it an instinct—to mimic, to project stories onto ourselves and others, and to create meaning through narrative and metaphor. Thanks for the reference. You do realize that the second reason conflicts with the claim that film creators often make: that they are not answerable for audience reaction. This is not a defense of censorship.

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