On Acting: The Value of Acting
Answer: To learn about themselves, audiences need experience, which engenders emotion, which engenders intellectual analysis and self-knowledge. To learn is to translate personal experience into universal truth.
Real, everyday experience can be costly, however; especially deep emotional experience such as the kind that results when one experiences death, murder, intense sexuality, war.
On the other hand, theater, film and video allows an audience to experience intense life onstage or onscreen in a safe, less physically consequential way. No one--neither actor nor audience has to actually die, murder, have perhaps unsafe sex or go to war to have the EMOTIONAL experience of such events. All the actor has to do is have to really, honestly and excitingly have the EMOTIONAL experience of intense 'life-in-performance' first. And, thereby, by enabling a much safer audience experiencing--by the audience's process of audience identification and empathy with the performed characters s' life before them, theatrical, film and video acting allows the audience to get into deep empathetic emotional contact with themselves...and learn.
This valuable learning experience, offered to audiences at an audience's very low everyday existential costs (and at a time and place of theie own choosing as well) creates great profit for the audience---the monetized profit of which they readily share with the audience.
How much is a Broadway ticket cost now: $150; $10 or more a ticket at the movie theater? How much do some film stars make now: twenty million dollars a movie? Well worth it...for two collective hours of emotional experiencing, learning and growing...while having a coke and a box of popcorn, too. Such a deal.