Monday, March 30, 2009

"Live" Theatre

As the economy continues to decline and our jobs become less certain, we seek diversions to distract us from the bad news. The arts are definitely a good way to find comfort and hope in these dark times. But there are many other competing outlets and one thing people are increasingly turning to are live athletic events. People want to feel like they are participating in something real rather than having a memorized text performed for them. Sports have scores of the high drama without being scripted and cheering on your favorite team or athlete makes you feel like you are making a difference in the story unfolding in front of you.

There is nothing more exciting than watching a basketball game that comes down to the final shot or a baseball game as it goes into extra innings. The best playwright couldn't write that level of nail-biting suspense. People are looking for the excitement of an unexpected turnover that changes the outcome of the game. And if you team happens to win, it gives you something to revel in and hold on to as you return to the drudge of everyday life.

Is there a way to meld the real sporting events with the performance arts? There have been all types of different ideas, but we haven't found a completely compelling way yet. Sketch comedy is still limited by the framing devise and the ability of the performer to be creative on the spot. Choose your own endings like Sheer Madness are still scripted. "Live Action" theatre, like Medieval Times, comes to mind and people do like it for its high theatrics, action, and unexpected plot turns, but it is still a facade. And you walk a fine line when claiming a facade is real; if your performance and execution isn't perfect, people's expectations won't be met and in the end that is even worse.

So how do we blend the two? How do we absolutely engage an audience in the action of a performance? What elements can we borrow from sports and what elements should we ignore? Or, are the two even comparable at all?

Happy Birthday: Sean O'Casey (1880-1964)

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