Unlike video and cinema (although sometimes employing elements of both), the theater is a living, real-time event, with both performers and audience mutually interacting, each aware of the other's immediate presence. This turns out to be an extremely important distinction. Distinguished film stars, particularly those with theater backgrounds (as most have), routinely return to the live dramatic stagedespite the substantially greater financial rewards of film workand invariably prefer stage acting because of the immediate audience response theater provides, with its corresponding sensations of excitement and presence.
The first of these is the rapport existing between actor and audience. Both are breathing the same air; both are involvedat the same time and in the same spacewith the stage life depicted by the play. Sometimes their mutual fascination is almost palpable; every actor's performance is affected by the way the audience yields or withholds its responses: its laughter, sighs, applause, gasps, silences. Live theatrical performance is always a two-way communication between stage and house.
Second, theater creates a relationship among the audience members. Having arrived at the theaters as individuals or in groups of two or three, the audience members quickly find themselves fused into a common experience with total strangers: laughing at the same jokes, empathizing with the same characters, experiencing the same revelations. This broad communal response is never developed by television drama, which is played chiefly to solitary or clustered viewers who (because of frequent commercial advertisements) are only intermittently engaged, nor is it likely to happen in movie houses, where audience members essentially assume a one-on-one relationship with the screen and rarely (except in private or group screenings) break out in a powerful collective response, much less applause. By contrast, live theatrical presentations generate audience activity that is broadly social in nature: the crowd arrives at the theater at about the same time, people mingle and chat during intermissions, and all depart together, often in spirited conversation about the play.Moreover, they communicate during the play: laughter and applause build upon themselves and gain strength from the recognition that others are laughing and applauding. The final ovationunique to live performanceinevitably involves the audience applauding itself, as well as the performers, for understanding and appreciating the theatrical excellence they have all seen together. And plays with political themes can even generate collective political response. In a celebrated example, 1935s Waiting for Lefty was staged as if the audience were a group of union members; by the play's end the audience was yelling Strike! Strike! in response to the play's issues. Obviously, only a live performance could evoke such a response.
Finally, live performance inevitably has the quality of immediacy. The action of the play is taking place right now, as it is being watched, and anything can happen. Although in most professional productions the changes that occur in performance from one night to another are so subtle that only an expert would notice, the fact is that each night's presentation is unique, and everyone presentthe audience, the cast, and those behind the scenesknows it. This awareness lends an excitement that cannot be achieved by theatrical events that are wholly in the can. One reason for the excitement, of course, is that in live performance, mistakes can happen; this possibility occasions a certain abiding tension, perhaps even an edge of stage fright, which some people say creates the ultimate thrill of the theater. But just as disaster can come without warning, so too can splendor. On any given night, each actor is trying to better his or her previous performance, and no one knows when this collective effort will coalesce into something sublime. The actors' constant striving toward selftranscendence gives the theater a vitality that is missing from performances fixed unalterably on videotape or celluloid. But perhaps most appropriately, the immediacy of live performance embodies the fundamental uncertainty of life. One prime function of theater is to address the uncertainties of human existence, and the very format of live performance presents a moment-to-moment uncertainty right before our eyes. Ultimately, this immediate theater helps us define the questions and confusions of our lives and lets us grapple, in the present, with their implications.
1. The word distinction in the passage is closest in meaning to
2. Paragraph 1 makes which of the following points about theater and film
A. Theater audiences tend to be more critical than film audiences.
B. Actors in the theater are usually not as well-known as film actors.
C. Theater companies tend to pay more than film companies do for the most distinguished actors.
D. Audiences respond to actors differently in theater than in film.
3. Paragraph 1 suggests that the reason distinguished film stars return to live theater is that they
A. are able to command higher fees as well-known actors
B. enjoy the excitement of performing before a live audience
C. have great respect for theatrical drama as an art form
D. are dissatisfied with the roles they are offered in films and television
4. The word rapport in the passage is closest in meaning to
A. excitement B. balance C. bond D. fascination
5. In paragraph 3, which of the following is mentioned as support for the statement that This broad communal response is never developed by television drama
A. Television drama is rarely about serious social issues.
B. People do not usually talk to each other while watching television.
C. Television audiences vary greatly in their interest in television dramas.
D. People do not typically watch television in large groups.
6. According to paragraph 3, movie house audiences are different from audiences at live theatrical performances because movie house audiences do not
A. enjoy humor and jokes as much as theater audiences do
B. develop broad communal responses
C. sympathize with the characters they see dramatized
D. generally applaud unless everyone else is applauding
7. Why does the author mention the play Waiting for Lefty
A. To illustrate the power of the communal response to plays
B. To argue that plays about political subjects have more power to evoke deep feelings in an audience than nonpolitical plays do
C. To provide an example of a play that was a popular success because it dealt with important political issues
D. To compare the political importance of plays in recent times with the political importance of earlier plays
8. Which of the sentences below best expresses the essential information in the highlighted sentence in the passage. Incorrect choices change the meaning in important ways or leave out essential information.
A. Although experts can detect the changes that occur in different performances, the changes are too subtle to be noticed by anyone else.
B. Although their performances vary only subtly from one night to another, actors in most professional productions want audiences to believe that every performance is unique.
C. Everyone involved in the professional production of a play knows that very small, almost unnoticeable changes make each performance unique.
D. In most professional productions, changes are included from one performance to another that are intended to make every performance a unique one.
9. The word thrill in the passage is closest in meaning to
A. goal B. weakness C. meaning D. excitement
10. The word vitality in the passage is closest in meaning to
A. style B. energy C. purpose D. quality 11. According to paragraph
4, on any given night the result of actors' efforts to better their previous performances is that the actors
A. form long-lasting relationships with the audience
B. are better able to overcome their stage fright
C. create a quality that is not present in film or television
D. are more likely to be admired by audiences
12. It can be inferred from paragraph 4 that one of the reasons filmed performances are less exciting than live theatrical performances is because
A. there is little chance that a mistake will occur in a filmed performance
B. most movies portray situations that audiences have seen before
C. audiences are interested in seeing famous actors live rather than on a screen
D. most people are accustomed to going to the movies but view the theater as a special event
13. Look at the four squaresthat indicate where the following sentence could be added to the passage. Such signs of an audience's engagement thus become part of every performance. Where would the sentence best fit? Click on a square to add the sentence to the passage.
14. Drag your choices to the spaces where they belong. To review the passage, click on View Text. Answer Choices
A. Although live theater is unlike either video or cinema, the different genressometimes overlap.
B. While live theater is regarded by most film actors as the most exciting place to perform, many are too troubled by stage fright to perform live.
C. In the theater, there is a two-way communication between actor and audience that has an effect on the actor's performance.
D. Audiences at live theatrical performances form a special connection, sharing the common experience of reacting to a live theatrical performance.
E. Many people go to the theater excited to see in a live performance an actor that they have never seen before except on television or in films.
F. The excitement of live theater cannot be achieved in any other medium, and its immediacy and uncertainty help us deal with life's fundamental uncertainty.