Why Theatre Matters

Sometimes, it's easy to question why theatre matters, and difficult to find a tangible answer.

We see turmoil around us so much of the time that it’s hard to put a finger on the immediate, positive impact that the arts community contributes to society.

I believe theatre gives people something to relate to. That it consoles and reminds us that the issues we deal with are widespread, that there are many others with narratives similar to our own, and above all - that we are not alone. For those who experience theatre and cannot relate, it exposes them to a new narrative, encourages reflection, growth, and empathy. This is what the members of Shellscrape value in theatre and hope to share with those who come to see our work.

Art is inclusive of all mediums, all expressions, and has been equally relevant and valuable to us as humans throughout millennia. Theatre is a blend of speech, visual, and auditory art forms- inherently built upon the presence of community. As a form, it teaches through story and helps to refine the skill of empathy.

To have empathy is to care for others beyond personal experience, to put yourself in another’s shoes. This is a skill that we have to harness now, more than ever before. It is dire that we reach out and try to understand otherness. That we forgive those for things we cannot understand, and that we welcome them back into our community despite our differences.

Machinal exists in a space and time that is incredibly rigid, with characters that seem stunted, even doomed from the start to be “cogs in a machine”. The first thing that drew me to Machinal, was the clear and human focus on the Young Woman’s story. The text is full of sexist and oppressive rhetoric which shows why she may have felt it was necessary to go to such extremes to find freedom. But as I looked closer, I saw an opportunity to mold the Young Woman’s world into something that more closely resembles ours and to draw parallels between the two.

Theatre is my chosen art form because it cannot exist in a vacuum. Theatre needs the other to survive. Others that come in the form of audiences, scene partners, lighting designers, orchestras, choreographers, lyricists, composers, dramaturgs - the list of collaborators could go on forever, but simply cannot begin alone.

As you experience Machinal, I encourage you to reach out and support the expanding community of actors, technicians, playwrights, directors and friends that make up Shellscrape Theatre Company. Whether your support is shown monetarily or by physically lending a hand, your support is incredibly valuable to us.

We are no exception to the above and cannot create alone.  

Elaine Rava

Artistic Director