In a world where entertainment is only a few clicks away, it can feel odd and particularly old fashioned to think of going to a public place to watch a movie let alone a play or musical. Although it may seem on the surface to be an outdated pastime, the theatre has endured for as long as it has because of the deep and profound way it can tell a story.
So why go and see a play or a musical rather than a film? Well unlike a movie theatre is live. This may seem like me stating the obvious but it makes all the difference. Each night is different from the night before. The energy each new audience brings gives the play subtle differences that will be unique to the performance you are seeing. On occasion when something changes or goes wrong it will go wrong only for you and the people you are watching it with and so it becomes incredible and memorable.
Ever since its inception in ancient Greece theatre has always endeavoured to be a mirror of society. It is constantly working to get under the skin of society and understand the things that drive us and where we are going. It’s for this reason that going to the theatre can be a revelatory social experience. You’ll get new perspectives on issues that affect us every day and you’ll maybe even have some of your old views challenged. If you are the sort of person who enjoys being politically engaged or if you’re the sort of person who feels lost in the world and is looking for anchorage going to the theatre can be a great place for you to find what you’re looking for.
Personally, I love going to the theatre to see people change. To see people pretending to be someone else. It’s truly joyous. There’s something particularly magical about a great actor performing a great story. It’s electrifying and gets under your skin. It can show you how people think and what people feel. I really believe that watching a great actor performing in live theatre can connect you to a deeper more nuanced understanding of the human condition. It’ll help to understand the different relationships you have as well as carry you on an imaginative adventure you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
There’s a moment when watching the bows that you see these characters you’ve been following for the last hour unmask and become the actors once again. It’s at this moment that I feel the magic happening. The illusion is broken and we know ourselves as part of a broader human story. When we sit together we are not just individuals watching a prerecorded video, we are a community that is conversing with each other and the performers. We are part of something bigger than ourselves. We know ourselves to have a communal imagination and understand that we are the same as the person sitting next to us. Human.