To me, what makes good theater is a performance’s ability to make us see the triumphs and weaknesses in ourselves, but simultaneously to show us what life is like for others and to make us aware of all kinds of people. When we see a character in pain, we should ideally feel for them and try to relate to them. We are on an adventure with the actors, and we get a slice of life from them--often one that might look much different than our own life, but that speaks to us anyway because we’re not as different as we imagine. I believe theater at its best is a tool to learn about ourselves and people we never thought to consider…it should inspire, encourage, entertain, and yet help us to think about the little guy.
But a clever and poignant script is also vital to good theater; all the work does not lie with the actors. For them to act well, they need a good foundation, a play that they can get excited about, or at least be trained to be excited about.
Lastly good theater needs (although less so) a stage that makes the audience members feel like they’ve entered into a new world, a place where all that matters is the story and the chemistry in the room. Ideally good theater is in a small room so that even people sitting in the back have a great view of the performance.