Theater – More Popular Than Ever?
Theater is a passion thing.
Theatre – probably the oldest form of organised entertainment, has had it’s ups and downs throughout history. Folk have gathered together to be thrilled, entertained, intellectually stimulated, and to hear music. They watched gladiators real life and real death – The pomp and ceremony (with participation) of religious services has been referred to as theater as has even Parliament and the Courts of Justice. All have something to show or say and they have an audience.
The above themes are still popular today, the audience can be television or films. Add to the above reality TV. The addition of all these together has hardly undermined the popularity of plays, from musicals to thrillers to, of course, Shakespeare.
Now there is a universal Down called the recession which is affecting the West End of London including theatres. People are still buying tickets though – snapping up reduced seats it’s true, so the profits are likely reduced however theatres are hiring themselves out as venues for meetings to the business sector to help things along.
There’s still plenty of activity in evidence and full price tickets are still bought because people still want the best seats for the occasion.
Visitors to London go to the theatre as often as they can. A trip to Soho and Covent Garden is never complete without taking in a show. The theatre is a subject of fascination to many more people than the ones who regularly go to a play or a musical. Though often an argued point, to be a star in the theatre is a greater accolade than to be a screen star (whatever size the screen may be). An actor’s career is enhanced in a good ‘benchmark’ role such as Hamlet.
Waiting for a part is called resting and a lot of ‘resting’ goes on for the majority of actors! Yet acting schools are as full as ever. There seems to be an indication however that the public are getting more interested if only because fringe theatre is growing as TV ratings fall.
The argument between different pollsters about their methods of finding out who watches what is still going on. However the ratings, so desperately needed to sell advertising space, are apparently falling whether they measure by Coronation Street or Desperate Housewives.
Let’s go OUT!
One might ask – do these programmes have the appeal they once had? Or is it just that people are generally bored with sitting at home glued to the box night after night? Compared to going out and watching real people play in the theatre there’s little doubt what the answer would be were it not for the expense and the babysitting.
It would be “Yo – let’s go to a show”
The Independent was saying that people might shift more if tickets cost less but it’s doubtful that it is to do with the money. Fans of bands and football somehow raise significant cash to see their heros live. It’s to do with passion.
The Momentum of Enthusiasm
The theatre is a real source for enthusiasm and live people getting involved with the very real activity it takes to put on a show. The sharp end is always the actor and director as it is with music where the musicians are perceived to be in the limelight. Behind the scenes (an expression much used in everyday language) the enthusiasm and love for the work goes much deeper. There is a cast behind the cast and behind that there are many guardians who make sure that theatres stay alive for the shows to go on.
The momentum behind theatre has been a force to reckon with for centuries. However much the money has to be found, and producers have to find it, somehow the ‘dark’ theatre is not as common as it has been. Many hundred theatres were demolished to develop the land they stood on. If it had been left to financially led decisions alone there would be only a few left.
even now there are few really NEW theatre houses built. – re-built yes but they are not exactly springing up all over the place. Stages and curtains do not the theater-house make.
Theatre groups like the Ambassador Theatre Group, Really Useful Theatres and Delfont Mackintosh Theatres have formed to protect theatres and to run them so they are not so often dark or turned in to nightclubs. There are plenty of plays that people want to see. The passion for the theatre is stronger than the relentless pursuit of making more money.
In twenty years time – who knows? It is likely that the passion will grow and a wider public will prefer to see a play than to watch TV. In the end though the saying of Shakespeare about actors (and theatre) rings in everyone’s ears
“We who live to please must please to live”