To answer this question, I would first like to address and unpack specific words and phrases in the question itself. “Suspension of disbelief” is a term originally coined by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and is defined as “a willingness to suspend one’s critical faculties and believe the unbelievable; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment.” (Dictionary.com’s 21st Century Lexicon). How exactly does it function in theater, as the prompt suggests? What role does it play in theatre? What makes it essential? We tend to believe that films, plays, television shows, or other similar artistic mediums are things we have never seen before, even if they might not be entirely realistic or logical. We do this and put our disbelief to the side for the sake of enjoying the movie, play, etc. Being “willing” to suspend your belief implies that it is a choice to sacrifice your disbelief in reality, and that reasoning and emotions are involved in this choice. The claim “‘suspension of disbelief’ is an essential feature of theatre’ implies that for knowledge to be gained, a person needs to suspend their disbelief. It also implies that the suspension of disbelief is essential in theatre, but what does this mean? Is it a necessary characteristic of theatre, or is it a main or fundamental feature in the identity of theatre? What exactly is it essential for? Is it essential for gaining knowledge? For questioning knowledge? For being a knower in this area of knowledge? What exactly does it mean to be essential?
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