In the theatre there is no censorship which makes the performers free to express themselves in any way they choose. On television, the performers are not free, they are restricted to a list of rules, so you only see the bits that ‘The Powers That Be’ choose for you to see. Ed Fest Street Theatre Top O The Mile

In theatre you can see the entire scene. You, and you alone, can direct your eye to any part of what is going within the space you inhabit, all around you, at any given moment. It is your eye, not the eye of the camera, that fixes the scene for you.

You can choose to watch the audience – which, in my opinion, is often more interesting: an older woman struggling to open the cap of a tub of Pringles; a child dripping his ice cream all over his new shirt then abandons the cone and starts licking his shirt; a young couple practically having sex in the front row which annoys you a bit and makes you jealous a bit too; the staff at the doors whispering to each other; the vendors trying to keep a happy smile whilst their eyes are dim; the ushers leaning on the back walls and watching the show so intently that they have not noticed you asking them for a program.


You can spend your entire evening staring at the ceiling, the chandelier, the architecture, the fine gilded boxes and being dazzled with moods and intensity and patterns of the the lighting displays.

On screen, we can only imagine the smells of the scene we are given; the scent of the flowers; the roast cooking on a stove; the freshly-baked bread in the oven; the urine soaked-lanes.

And we can only imagine what the velvet, silk and rough hessian that we are looking at feels like under our skin. In order to feel these rich textures, one has to go to the hotel, the stately home, the cafe, the bar, the retail outlet and run these materials through our fingers. Only then can we fully experience its magnificence.

In the theatre, we can smell the polish, the popcorn, the coke, the hot dogs, the ice cream and the wine and the toilet smells (WARNING: this is not a healthy eating blog). And, ironically, these things are the very things that would make one wished that they had stayed at home in a darkened room.

Ed Fest Fringe with Hladkys

My point is, that on television, you are being fed; in the theatre, you are feasting.

Before I go on, let me define ‘theatre’: a space, a performer and an audience. That is all.

Theatre is a social experience. You collectively watch the spectacle and each of you have a unique view – the one you can only have, which is that from your own perspective. No-one in the audience has the same view as you. Your view is unique to you and you alone.

But you share the space. You share the spectacle. You share the audience. You share the noises, smells and textures within and without of the piece and you share the reverberations and euphoria of a collective laugh, sigh, gasp or clap. And at the end of it all you can critique it and discuss it with your friends and some strangers. You were all there. Only those who attended have witnessed what happened. Perhaps only a few of you. Maybe twenty or fifty or one hundred or three hundred.
Three hundred people sounds like a lot of people – but its not really a very lot compared with those who have watched the same film or TV show – they are usually in the millions and thousands. And they were not actually watching it with you. Nor were they necessarily watching it at the same time, day and hour of you.

They may have watched the same thing that you watched at different times across days, months, decades.

So, in that vein, you have had a unique experience and you have shared it with relatively very few people. You are in a unique club.

Even when the show goes up the next night, only you and those who attended on the night you went, have had the same experiences as you. No live performance is ever the same night after night. Firstly, the audience is different, some performers may have changed, the weather will be different, the actors have changed since the previous evening. And, above all, the audience has drastically changed.

In any act of theatre, you are free in a way that watching a screen does not. There is a place for screen, of course, and 3-D is also interesting – and all that, but with live theatre, you are immersed in a collective experience that is happening at that very place and time. It is LIVE and REAL – even if they are only pretending. And it only involves those who have witnessed it on that day, that hour, that moment. It is unique.

BlueEyedLassie Keara with Camera Cover Shot

And, in the theatre, you can heckle the performer and the artiste will hear you, unlike when you are shouting at the telly – no-one has heard you scream.

In theatre, the performer – especially if it is a comedian – will respond and at this point you will know very quickly what the difference is between the screen and the live event and that is because you will be sweating in your pants, about to piss yourself  – and not in a good way – and then you will finally and definitely know that you are alive.

So, come out of your box and into the street, the tent, the garden, the crumbling facade of that once grande building, the tent, the cave and the underground city passageways – and dance with us, sing with us, free your soul with us, create creative anarchy with us and enter some dens of iniquity with us and get drunk with us Itinerant Minstrels this August whilst ‘Censorship sleeps and the mouth speaks’*

Keara’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe Show 2018 -FREE  

* Augusto Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed, New Edition, 2000, Pluto Press.