‘Audiences Cultivate the Power of Compassion’

For Diane Paulus, the Artistic Director of the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University, vocation informs the subject of how Americans can live together.

“As a theater director, I believe that the audience is a key partner in my work. I also believe that audiences are a key partner in the work of a democracy. Audiences do not merely watch. When we attend a performance, we bring our bodies, as well as our hearts and our minds, to the acts of listening and watching: we show up for the experiences of other people,” she explained. “The act of showing up is a civic ritual with great power. The ancient Greeks knew this. In their theaters, which seated over 10,000 people, audiences wrestled collectively with stories of utmost importance to the state. In other times and places, too, from Sanskrit drama to Shakespeare’s Globe, the theater’s ability to assemble has always been viewed as inherently political, and potent.”

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