The ubiquity of film raises the question of why some actors prefer sticking with theatre. After all, you’ll no doubt be able to name more famous film actors than famous (exclusively) theatre actors.
Simply put, some actors just find the creative process involved in stage work more organic than film. This isn’t to say that film does not have its share of merits. Film work can be very interesting, and it comes with its fair share of challenges that will keep you on your toes.
But the theatre is different. And it’s different because it is collaborative – the actor is invited to be partake of the creative process. All that time you spend in rehearsals allows you to participate in work-shopping the script to working out the blocking, together with the rest of the production and creative team. Every rehearsal is unique in itself and you’ll find yourself constantly working with others to sort things out together. There is synergy and communication, relationships and real-life experiences. There is teamwork.
On stage, actors unite with the audience and the production team to witness a creation unfold before their very eyes. Every moment becomes real, unedited and spontaneous, and everyone gets to be a part of it.
Max Von Sydow conveys this best. After you shoot a film, you go away and maybe you’re cut out of scenes which you think were good. Film is in that sense more a director’s medium. In theatre, you are there and you deliver directly to your audience. You work together with the audience to create, for that time, for that space. That makes it truly an actor’s medium.