Christian Long

Patsy Rodenburg: Why I Do Theater

In TED Talks on May 2, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Reflection by EMMA L.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Patsy Rodenburg: Why I Do Theater

People do theatre for many reasons. For some it’s a hobby while others it’s a source of entertainment. Theatre is an art form that creates passion, energy and life in the audience and on stage. Whether you’re the actor or audience member, the spirit of creation runs through your body which releases a sensation that keeps you wanting to know and see more. Theatre can aid a lost soul in discovering who they truly are. Theatre also reveals the truth that many of us do not want to face.

That is why Patsy Rodenburg does theatre. She knows that the theatre reveals the dirty truth that people hide from everyday. Patsy currently teaches voice at Michael Howard Studios in New York City who wants to bring the highly practical techniques that make actors successful to the rest of the world. Patsy describes actors as the “healers of society, the people who witness the truth”. She reveals two past events that she attended that supports her reason of doing theatre.

Patsy was on a radio show awhile ago with an agent who was talking about the theatre. The agent was mocking actors the whole time while Patsy was defending them. The host of the broadcast walked over to her at the end of the show and was pleased with her whole argument and admired her passion for the theatre. She went on to say

“You know the reason why I was so delighted that you supported actors is that the only people who could deal with me and my son’s suicide were actors.”

Actors understand emotion more than anyone else in the world. They are exposed to different situations and hardships that an ordinary person might not even realize someone is living in that condition. Actors can also cope with feelings and emotions better than most people because of their discipline and control. Being an actor is one of the hardest jobs to maintain and earn a good living, yet more and more people attend auditions and participate in the theatre everyday.

When Patsy went on a book tour in Australia, she spoke to about seven hundred people and students about the art of acting and voice. In the corner of the auditorium was a little man in a suit that seemed to separate himself from the crowd. During her whole speech and talk he would fidget and act like he was disturbed or didn’t want to be there. At the end of her talk, she went outside to do a book signing. The man was over by the doors waiting for something. Patsy had this feeling that she needed to go meet and speak to this man who was out of the norm in the auditorium. When the people in the room left he came up to her and said

“I don’t like theatre.”

Don’t like theatre? He explained to Patsy that he once went to the theatre to see The Women of Troy and didn’t like the actress who lost her son. She asked why didn’t you like the actress and he replied because she made this sound that was very embarrassing. After saying this, the man looked down to the floor and his energy seemed to change. When he looked back up he said

“A year ago a policeman came to my door and said my daughter had been raped and murdered and I made that sound. Whoever that actress was I bless her because she told the truth and I hadn’t grown up enough to know it.”

This is why Patsy does theatre.

To learn more about Patsy Rodenburg visit

If you enjoyed this talk, take a peek at Natasha Tsakos’ Multimedia theatrical adventure, Anna Deavere’s American Character, and Sarah Jone’s One woman global village.


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