Sarah Ruhl...on Theater and Eating What We See

In the medieval age stained glass was one of the few daily images offered up for reflection and meditation, and now in the present moment we see God knows how many visual images a day—I think by one recent estimate the eye had to process three thousand visual images a day (and just think if one’s job requires one to walk by Times Square now and again, the horror). If the Victorians lived in an age of the word making the image, we now live in the digital age: touch makes image.... Recently I was with my five year-old daughter at the theater. She whispered and pointed to the stage “Are those real people?” She asked me. “They’re actors,” I said. “But are they real people?” She asked. “Yes, I said.”

I realized that she must have asked this because of the profusion of digital images that she sees. She didn’t wonder if the characters were real, she wondered if the actors were real. This is perhaps why the new generation will find theater exceedingly exciting (or else exceedingly dull)—a place where word still conjures images of the invisible world but the people are real.
— From "Eating what we see" (100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write)