Social Question

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Is live theater valuable?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (25799 points ) February 21st, 2012

I’ve been acting since I was six years old. There’s never been a time when I haven’t been involved in theater in some way. It’s my passion.

Besides the economic powerhouses of Broadway and the West End, I’m wondering what the collective thinks of theater. Is it valuable? Does it produce something worthwhile? If so, what?

Theater is an ancient art form. We have the plays of of classical Greece handed down to us from over 2000 years ago. More recently, Shakespeare gave the English language some of the most profound plays of any age. And the present time is full of great playwrights like Edward Albee, Tennessee Williams, Peter Shaffer, and so many more. What’s more, I’ve only listed English playwrights. There’s Chekhov and Brecht to consider. Good heavens, I can’t possibly list them all.

In an era where the bottom-line is all important, what value does theater have?

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15 Answers

Dutchess_III's avatar

It’s one of those things you’d have to experience to appreciate. I’ve been to one play in my life, and it was amazing. I didn’t think it would be, but it was.

flutherother's avatar

I like the theatre but I don’t go often enough. Yes, it is valuable.It can have a very powerful effect on its audience.

Judi's avatar

It has great value. It does something for your soul.
I have been feeling guilty lately because I haven’t done enough to support local theater. I think I’ll go see The Miriacle Worker this weekend.

tranquilsea's avatar

I love live theatre. I think there will always be a place for it.

SuperMouse's avatar

Nothing compares to live theater as far as I’m concerned. There are so many pieces written specifically for the stage and to see them on the screen is almost sacrilegious. I agree with @Judi livie theater feeds the soul. I will go one step further and say that small local theater companies have a special spot in the theater world. I have seen many, many plays performed by our local theater that I would never have been exposed to otherwise. These were small productions that were incredibly well done by dedicated, talented, passionate performers.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Summer stock in Southern Maine, Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut and Hartford Theaterworks.

Only138's avatar

Signs point to “NO”. :)

linguaphile's avatar

Sputtering… grasping heart… fainting spell…

Of course, HawaiiJake…... it’s valuable!!! Where else would we get our good actors from? :D

On a more serious note, I do think it is a hugely valuable source in our society, but I am afraid the art and the allure is becoming undervalued, like symphonies and art museums, because of the insane education funding cuts on art programs.

DaphneT's avatar

Live theater is a wonderfully valuable resource. When tech is dead, even for short periods, people would still have a way of engaging in interpretations of life as they know it. It does not need a building, just a space, it does not need a script, just people jamming about their thoughts and feelings. What could be better?

Sunny2's avatar

Talk about learning from experiencing a live performance. It’s a vicarious experience of recognizing human emotions in situations we might otherwise never have faced. Film doesn’t do the same thing, in the same way that fresh fruit is not the same as canned. Both may be tasty, but fresh, live is more real.

smilingheart1's avatar

Absolutely awesome and engaging. If only there was more of it. Also just love the creativity involved in restaging.

Leanne1986's avatar

Live theatre is one of my all time favourite ways to escape. I am going to London to see a couple of shows this weekend and I am very excited. I even love sitting in an auditorium waiting for a show to start. Yes, it’s valuable.

I used to do a lot of community theatre (or, as we call it here in England, AmDram) but I much prefer watching a show to being in a show.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

This blog post seems relevant especially concerning community theater.

serenade's avatar

Theater is the closest thing I have to a religious practice at the moment. I’ve done various production work as a hobby and as a favor to a playwriting/producing friend of mine for the past 10 or 11 years. I started out with dance productions, since I had a strong affinity for dance performance and then when my friend moved to town to get her MFA, I started helping with her plays. It took me a long time to learn how to appreciate live, “local” theater (black box, community, etc.), because I would often get hung up on any technical error that happened during the show and stew on that for the rest of the evening. In other words, I was never really a theater person.

At some point a couple of years ago that changed for me with one original production I was involved with. I was overwhelmed during tech week when I saw weeks of rehearsal in a drab space absolutely spring to to life with the addition of really wonderful lighting, sound and set design (plus good acting and a great, nonlinear, magical realism-based script). Since then, I’ve hooked up with some really wonderful, seasoned theater people and found a home among many in the burgeoning theater scene in my area. I’ve finally acted. I’ve finally directed. And what I have now is a practice that gives me something to be devoted to, something that forces teaches me to live in the present moment, and something that puts me in the center of a human energy exchange. Six weeks of rehearsals and two weeks of shows is better than TV or therapy or most anything else I can think of.

That being said, I’m still seeking my balance relative to audience size. It’s disappointing to put out all that effort for a house of 25 people or less. 75 is a good number. I’ve played for any more than that, but I would guess that 300 is my limit. Maybe even less.

I’m also less interested in many of the bigger shows, musicals, etc. My politics and aesthetics can be pretty specific, and I want my theater to offer ideas and metanarrative that you probably won’t find in big shows or on television or in movies. Because there’s less money involved, there’s more opportunity to offer something less conventional to think about or consider or celebrate. So that’s valuable to me as well.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Yes, @Hawaii_Jake , live theater is valuable. A pearl beyond price. And frankly, I find the most valuable of the live theaters how awkward a phrase is that? to be the smaller ones, the community theaters, the intimate venues, the actors-practically-fall-into-your-lap kinds of theaters. The ones where I know they can feel me aching for the tragedy, rejoicing in the love requited, fighting to not laugh too loud and distract them theaters. I have seen polished professional actors in such venues working alongside the dedicated amateurs and been thrilled. I’ve seen pretty poor productions that I was still delighted to have sat through.
In short, I will practically beggar myself in other aspects of my life in order to go to live theater.

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