I could never really get into theater. I find seeing characters at a distance disengaging and would often struggle keeping myself awake through the performance. I understand that actors feed off the crowd’s energy and there is something truly magnetic about having that direct, instant connection with one’s audience, but I would not consider myself one to reciprocate this bond. Instead, it was film and television that reached me at my seat, in my home or at the cinema.
Although the actors cannot feed off the crowd’s energy directly in a film, the audience is granted the luxury of a woman’s crying face, a transfer of a suspicious weapon into the pocket of an innocent man, or the holding of two forbidden lovers hands. These images have the ability to flood the screen so that our attention is focused on these acts for a similar effect of engagement. It was this lack of close-ups that limited my appreciation for theater.
So imagine my surprise when reading about the Laterna Magika Theater—a true, synchronized fusion of theatre and film (Burian: 33). Many critics have categorized film as an extension of theatre, as a method of mass reproduction of what already existed on stage. Upon studying film as an entity onto itself and not a limb of the theatrical arts, it is fascinating to finally visualize through Jarka Burian’s text how these two can complement each other. The camera is not a canned reproduction of the stage and the stage is not a live action version of a film. Imagine seeing a ball tossed on a colossal screen and then caught by a woman standing on the stage. The two have become one. Theater has acquired close-ups and film has acquired direct connection with its audience.