I find it interesting to see how other classic mediums of communicating art like literature and print media are continually descending in popularity whilst film and television rise. We have a society of people who like to zone out and still the most traditional form of entertainment, theatre, remains.
I suppose the development of the modern age has done a lot to change the typical theatrical audience. You have a younger generation being enticed by the actor/Youtube sensations of the world because actors have realised the need to self-brand and create a fan base through social media and self promotion and a new age of adults who come to the theatre because so many shows are being produced as adaptions of films they already know or jukebox musicals of a band they really like. Live theatre broadcasting in cinemas is bringing shows to the masses and maybe bringing a lot of people around to the idea that the theatre isn’t just for the upper classes, although theatre decorum might have dropped a little (passive aggressive side note to leave your snacks with noisy papers alone and stop getting oh so drunk when you come to the theatre) it truly is great that the theatre is becoming much more accessible and inclusive to all.
Another reason I think the theatre stays a staple form of entertainment is probably something to do with the human connection, such a vital part of communication. It reminds me a little of a framework I learned about at uni which talked about the different types of communication on a scale of how rich the information gathered is. It basically explains that whilst modern means of technology provide us with rapid, convenient and easily gathered information, nothing is richer than face to face communication; it provides us with word content, body language and tone of voice the three elements required in order to gain context from our communications and to have a better understanding of the information being transmitted. And yes the internet allows us to FaceTime and Skype but there’s something unexplainable that we gain from genuine face to face communication and that is the extra element of being able to feel the atmosphere between people. Here’s a great article about why people need face to face communication…
And now, back to the point, it’s the richness of the theatrical experience, the understanding and empathy you can feel for the characters onstage that makes it such a cool thing to experience. It can never die because every now and then you need to listen to a story and the theatre is the most wonderfully intense way to do that, especially because there are ushers there to ensure you don’t get distracted by your phone every two seconds. It’s so important to experience the fully immersive, imagination-engaging experience of seeing a show in a theatre, it actually gives us an hour or two to literally shut out the outside world and listen to other people. People who don’t go to the theatre are really missing out on one of the most special things a human can experience – support your local theatre, go to the West End or Broadway and feel the joy of theatre!