In a society where dramatic entertainment is dominated by Hollywood, we
sometimes forget that there’s an alternative. Every day, children go to the cinema
with their friends; they eat sweets, chat, and laugh and cry over the on-screen
drama. This is considered normal, and is heartily encouraged by the film industry.
Unfortunately, the alternative is just as glorious, but gets far less attention; the
magic of live theatre is being lost. Stage adaptations of many films (and indeed some
plays on which films were based) are just as good as their screen counterparts, if
not better. Yet we never see bands of bored teenagers entering Popejoy Hall.
The thing about live theatre is that it’s unpredictable. When any live show is
being performed live, the unexpected often happens. There is no slick editing to
cover up mistakes, no casting changes or marketing ploys. Sometimes a mistake
works out well, and adds to the show. Some days, an actor’s emotion may be greater
than during others, and this may improve the production, or hinder it. In film,
everything is perfect—too perfect.
Too often, people think of live theatre as an activity for adults. When people think of live theatre, or plays, they think of stuffy Grandmothers heading off to the opera, or rich executives drinking champagne in the third row. Nothing could be further from the truth; in fact, the stage holds something for everyone. Some teenage classics have their theatrical counterparts; Grease, Hairspray, Heathers, and Wicked can be seen in live theatre, along with many others. Some plays convey more adult issues; Rent tells the story of the suffering bohemians of New York City’s Lower East Side. The play Spring Awakening conveys teenage sexuality and suicide. Even very young children have plays and musicals to enjoy: Classic stories such as
The Lion King, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Cinderella, and Matilda have found their way to the stage. Entertainment goes so far beyond music and film—every human should be exposed to the Dramatic Arts in all its many forms, and I will try to express this in my column. Enjoy!