When I was a child, my family’s form of intimacy was gathering nightly around the television and watching other families interact in ways that we found to be funny or dramatic or otherwise fulfilling. Mind you, I was a child. At that time, I could not foresee what the psychological or social implications of this family ritual might be or into what future it might lead our family.
My sisters became wedded to heartthrobs, my mother became enthralled by sexy torch singers on variety shows, my father found buddies in the nightly adventures of cops and robbers and war heroes. And me? Well…I welcomed them all as friends, given the lack of friends I found in my family and in my everyday life.
But television is a bit one-sided. The characters talk to you but you’re never really able to get to know them. And they don’t listen very well. They only exist in your imagination. It is, after all, a bunch of dots on a screen.
And that’s why I love intimate theatre: these are real people. I can smell their body odor; see the sweat beading on their upper lip. And if I’m lucky…I can talk to them after the show in an after-performance “talk-back”.
They may not become my friends. They will never be intimate family members. But I can learn so much more about how to be intimate with a person right there in front of me than I ever can in my imagination. Don’t you think?