Hailed by the Times Literary Supplement as "daring and inspiring," Paul Woodruff's brilliant The Necessity of Theater makes the case for theater as a unique form of expression connected to our most human instincts. What is unique and essential about theater? What separates it from other arts? The art of theater, Woodruff argues, is as necessary - and as powerful - as language itself. Defining theater broadly, including sporting events and social rituals, he treats traditional theater as only one possibility in an art that - at its most powerful - can change lives and (as some peoplesbelieve) bring a divine presence to earth. Woodruff sheds light on the unique power of theater by separating it into the twin arts of watching and being watched, practiced together in harmony by watchers and the watched. Whereas performers practice the art of being watched, audiences practice theart of watching: paying close attention. A good audience is emotionally engaged as spectators; their engagement takes a form of empathy that can lead to a special kind of human wisdom.