Monday, July 14, 2008

Just Because

Hungarian director Arpad Schilling gives us some questions to ponder in the current issue of Theatre:

"One goes to the theater in the evening, in one’s best clothes (to watch and to take refreshments). In other words, never when one feels like it, just because. And why would one feel like it? Who goes to the theater because he feels like it? One goes because one must. Because one’s parents used to go, but they, perhaps, still had an inkling why. The Hungarian theater is not a meeting place, but the opportunity for self-representation or, rather, a museum trip. A cloakroom, refreshments counter, red velvet seats, curtains, lights, and famous people in the theater. But there is no bookshop, because there are no books on theater. There are no concerts, because there are no theater orchestras. There is no dancing, because there are no theater dancers... There are no exhibitions, because the pictures are hanging in the museums, not in the theaters. There are no festivals, screenings, conferences, workshops, classes, quiz shows, audience meetings, forums; they do not exist."

Now think of this in the context of the digital revolutions that is going on allowing people to create their own entertainment experience with DVD's, TeVo, and iPods. Where does this leave theatre? Why would anyone want to go anymore? To be bound to sit in your uncomfortable seat for two hours at a performance that may or may not even be compelling - what is the point?

What does theatre need to do differently to appeal to the changing audiences? How does theatre stay relevent in our digital society?

Happy Birthday: Arthur Laurents and Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007)

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