But we go in, watch their story, and come out, changed. If their work is good, and skilfully written, presented and acted, we come out feeling exhilarated: we are more alive for seeing it, more aware of the possibilities of the human race, more fully human ourselves. So far, so wonderfully universal. But this story we watch can have a meaning: a very specific meaning. What if we are black, say, and we go to see some splendidly effective, but completely racist theatre show? What if we are Jewish, and go to see a piece of anti-semitic drama such as one could easily see in Germany in the 1930s? Are we quite so exhilarated? Quite so fully human? Or would we not feel demeaned, excluded from humanity, diminished in our possibilities and a great deal more pessimistic about the future of the human race than when we went in? The meaning, and value, of theatre can clearly change from country to country, group to group, and – significantly – from class to class.
What does this mean then? That not all stories are so wonderfully universal? That the political and social values of the play cannot be the same for one audience as they are for another? What a terribly confusing state of affairs!