Week 4 Reflective Writing

I do think there is value in live theater, even with digital content easily available. Theater is a different experience. Watching the show happen with real people, hearing the reactions of other audience members, and even anything that happens to go wrong. They’re all part of going to see a live show. Yes, many stage productions have movie versions but it’s never the same, and the filmed versions of stage productions, like Newsies or Hamilton, the changing camera angles and closeups make it feel like a movie. Theater is dependent on the space it’s in, which is why theaters are so unique, and why historical theaters have survived so long. We know what the Globe theater looked like enough to rebuild it and there are remains of the Greek theaters. I’m not sure exactly what is so special about theater, perhaps it shares a message in a unique way or people are more open to a message they see rather than are told but I don’t think digital content can replace theater, we just need to remind people that theater exists.

I don’t know what the role of theater is now, in 2020. I think when theater can come back, there will be human traits that have been brought to people’s attention, and I think the loss of theater will remind people of its value. I personally don’t see a way for theater to work online. The actors can’t communicate the same way through a screen, and the audience isn’t part of the experience just another participant in a zoom call. Could it still be enjoyable? Maybe. But it’s missing something. UMW performed some segments of their spring show over zoom. I checked it out and I didn’t like it. I couldn’t really tell who was talking to who, or who the characters really were. Some of that is due to the structure UMW decided on since small clips aren’t going to give you complete characterization. But I think some of the issues would hold for a full-length production. On stage, there are cues of who is talking to who, and you can hear where the sound is coming from. Over zoom, you have to see whose mouth is moving or which box has the yellow lines. My experience felt like I had to put in more work to get less when compared to live, staged theater.

Perhaps this closure of the theaters is a good time for outreach and education to encourage people to come to the theater’s when it’s safe. Or maybe it’s a good time to look at the diversity (or lack thereof) on Broadway and the financial barrier theater has. I don’t think theater is doomed to disappear. We’ve been performing stories for centuries and I don’t think this will stop that. I think theater could change due to this, however.  

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