“A letter came to me a few years ago from a long-retired actress who had, as a youngster, been taken to see Edwin Booth play King Lear. It seems that towards the end of the play, when the mad Lear was brought face to face with his daughter Cordelia, there was a sharp pause, then – for a second that couldn’t quite be caught or measured – a startled, desperate, longing flicker of near-recognition stirred somewhere behind the old man’s eyes, and then – nothing. The entire audience rose, without thinking, to its feet. It didn’t cheer. It simply stood up. It was as though a single electrical discharge had passed from one body on the stage, instantaneously, through a thousand bodies in the auditorium. Something had been plugged into a socket; two forces had met.
This meeting is what the theater is all about; it is its greatest power . . . The theater gains its natural – and unique – effect not from the mere presence of live actors, or the happy accident of an occasional lively audience, but from existence of a live relationship between these two indispensible conspirators, signaling to one another through space.”
–Walter Kerr (1913-1996) Author and Theater Critic
From his book THE THEATER IN SPITE OF ITSELF