Thursday, April 16, 2009

Happy Endings

In a time of uncertainty, two things are almost certain to be "up" in spending - and they are. The first is sales at the movies and second is movies with happy endings. Both ideas make sense; consumers want an escape from their dreary life filled with bad news. They want something casual and affordable (unlike the majority of theatre) and they want something that will leave them feeling good in the end.

So why is it, then, that Broadway seems to be having a tough time?

With shows closing on Broadway left and right and producers opting for shorter, more stable runs of straight plays, it looks like just the opposite is happening there. Of course the tickets on the Great White Way aren't necessarily affordable to the great majority of Americans and could be considered a luxury in these troubled times. Perhaps it is a good thing to shake up the business a little in order to bring the theatre back to a more every-man level.

This too will be reflected in theatres across the country. Rather than remaining in its niche of the more artsy and contemplative art form, theatre will have to reach out to people and offer escape and hope. It will have to become more diversionary and entertaining and less didactic. Theatre will always challenge its audience, but when more and more people are wanting to tune out like they do in front of the television a balancing act must be reached. Our theatres have found ways to do it before, and will have to continue to do it in this even more difficult market.

Happy Birthday: John Millington Synge (1871-1909), Peter Ustinov (1921-2004), & Augusto Boal (b. 1931)

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