Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Theatre cannot be replaced

[On behalf of Team Beckett]

Some will tell you that theatre is doomed and that film isn't just an art form, but the way of the future. To thee, I say NAY! Our class discussion of spectacle reminded me that there is so much value in the live theatre environment. Regardless of subject choices or artistic approaches, live theatre will always have a niche, because of that wonderful, wonderful weirdness irked by the ability to see something happen before your very eyes. There is that mystical quality to being able to witness a happenning - having been in the room - seeing something created before your very eyes - which recorded media simply will not capture. A sheer amount of in-your-face-ness.

This was a thought I'd had recently when I read an article published about the fall of the CD format due to online stores and sheer pirating. Recorded music is on the verge of becoming a hopeless cause to charge money for because of the utter ease of stealing it due to advances in technology. I realized that, though this is a tragedy, this is an easy wake-up call for bands and artists everywhere. Bands have to stop using tours as just lame venues with which to sell their CD's. Before the 80's, bands actually cared about their tours and made them all into thrilling experiences full of lights, costumes, jumps, swaying, glamour, theatrics, pyrotechnics, etc. Half of the different "movements" of rock and roll have been changes in costume anyway. Then, along came Thriller, and suddenly every album become a cheap ploy to make some dumbass in a corporate office a millionaire by finding hits and repeating the formula until a band was nothing but a puppet with a record executive's arm crammed up his ass.

Many of us in the Theatre Department will want to be screenwriters and screen actors and screen anything. It certainly pays a lot better, sometimes the budget is better too. But, no matter how pretty somebody looks in the beautiful and intricately polished magic of film, a film is something that can be ripped onto a disc and distributed to anyone with a computer at all in a matter of moments. If you're making a film, keep in mind that people in Taiwan probably are already pirating a bootlegged unfinished cut.

Theatre, however, is raw. Performance, regardless of whatever ridiculous thing you've done whether on a shoestring budget or with all the right investors, has value in one basic quality that makes it theatre - it's live. You can always charge people for something if it's live. Because things that are live have value. Everything is up in the air. It's the thrill. It's the life. It's the spectacle of theatre.

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