The Countable and Uncountable Definitions of Theatre

by Patricia Masera

in Generation Without Borders,Global Citizenship

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(Generation Without Borders is an essay contest created by TCG , the home of the U.S. center of the International Theater Institute(ITI-US), as part of the 50th Anniversary of World Theatre Day. Originally posted by the the New York City World Theatre Day Coalition at www.nycwtd.blogspot.com.)

Looking for the definitions for the word theatre, I came across something quite interesting, according to the MacMillan Dictionary, theatre has, among others, these 3 definitions:

[COUNTABLE] a building, room, or outside area used for plays
[UNCOUNTABLE] the activity or job of writing, performing, or organizing performances of plays
[UNCOUNTABLE] plays considered as entertainment or art

Although these are not uncommon findings, what caught my attention was the Countable and Uncountable adjective and their impact on what is happening in theatre nowadays.

More and more boundaries are being broken and at the same time established- [Countable] -, it sounds like incongruence but it is in our differences that we are getting closer; it is through those [Uncountable] that we find the bridges that get us closer. Technology has become part of that bridge, by bringing us closer as artists, providing tools to achieve our visions, and the challenge to establish theatre and live performances as a vital means of artistic connection with the audience.

The need to create a theatrical piece – may that be in a theatre, a house, a warehouse, a virtual platform or at a park – has long been around us, and we continue to modify our stages depending upon our resources and our needs. It has been imperative for the performing arts to evolve as technology keeps developing at a fast pace. The performing arts have had to re-invent it and at the same time keep true to its nature. Without a doubt this task has become more and more difficult over the years, not only because of financial constraints but also because live performances have to keep a pulse on their surroundings, not just emotionally but also at a global level. Despite what drives us as a community we have an inner force as artists to create and reach out, collaborate and share our experiences. Exposing ourselves and collaborating with other disciplines and being able to use those technological tools to our advantages has been part of the challenge.

It is the possibility of the Uncountable despite country, race, or discipline that drives us to pursue that moment when the exhilaration of both performer and audience connect. It has no definite definition, location, or medium. It is the pure presence of beauty and art in action.


Patricia Masera (Paraguay) is the co-founder of the aerial Paraguayan theatre group Nhi-Mu. She was awarded the B’nai Birth for Achievement in Theatre and a Fulbright Scholarship in 2006. She has a MFA in Performing Arts Management from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.


The New York City World Theatre Day Coalition is comprised of representatives of theatre companies and advocacy groups whose common goal is to promote World Theatre Day within the New York City theatre community. To find out how you can participate or about upcoming events visit www.nycwtd.com.