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The Importance of Live Theatre

To go or not to go...that shouldn't be a question!

Summer is fast approaching, and as always Hollywood is charging the gates with a plethora of fantastic blockbusters that will send moviegoers and junkies alike to cinemas across North America and all over the world. Popcorn and soda, amazing explosions, Chris Pratt's amazingness coming out of the screen with three-dimensional awesomeness; what could be any better? How about live theatre? 

Theatre has been around for some time, and a lot longer than a lot of people think. Sure, when we hear 'theatre' we all go directly to three things: Shakespeare, which sends shivers down the spines of many high schoolers across the globe; ballet, with more spins and twirls than any roller coaster Disney World or Six Flags can muster up for anyone's enjoyment; or the opera, where everyone prays for the fat lady to come out and bring it home. But bear with me: there is more to the theatre than these clichés. Theatre has been around since humans began to write, all the way back to the Greeks. The Greeks wrote about Kings who murdered their fathers and had children with their mothers, and they sent women to caves and to the gallows for trying to save your brother--that's some HBO, Game of Thrones shit there! They built the first theatres out of a mountainside that allowed one man, who, wherever he stood on the stage floor, could talk at normal voice volume and reach the person at the farthest seat as if they were standing next to one another. The history of the theatre is amazing, and if you ever get a chance to indulge in the vast history of it, I unbiasedly recommend it, but I am here to persuade you of something else: GO AND WATCH LIVE THEATRE!!!

I'm serious, even at a young age, I loved going to the theatre to watch live performances. Plays, musicals, dance shows, music festivals, concerts--you name it! There is so much you get out of a live performance. Not only is it mostly cheaper than the movies nowadays, but it submerges you into different cultures, and gives you a brand new experience every time you see a show, even if it was the same one you saw the night before. 

Movies these days are expensive. I know at Cineplex in Canada, it is $12.25 for a ticket alone, and no less than $15.00 for a bag of popcorn, a medium soda, and a bag of candy. So you are leaving the theatre with a huge hole in your pocket, buttery fingers, and perhaps the memory of a movie that wasn't worth watching. With live theatre, generally, it is cheaper than going to the movies (for the record, I am not speaking about Broadway or any equivalent--getting Hamilton tickets is worth more than an arm and a leg on the black market). If it is community theatre, it could be anything from free, to pay-what-you-can, to about $15-$30. Going to a play doesn't have to be extravagant; community theatre is designed to be cheap and fun, which is what movie theatres used to be like. 

Another problem with movies are the movies themselves. Many moviegoers, and I myself am guilty of this, will tend to go see a movie more than once. They've enjoyed the experience so much that they want to experience it again. But, with something as concretely edited and structured as a movie, the second time going is seldom better than the first. There is nothing different about the movie at all. It's set in stone. With theatre, whether it's a play or a dance or a music concert of any genre, every performance is different. Let's look at plays as an example: the actors are there, the props can be touched, and the lights above can go at any time. Sure, there is a script involved, and it is a part of an actor's job to stick to the script as tightly as they can, but who's to say that a line can be missed? Or improvised? Or maybe something was funnier today than it was the night before? With dance, it's the same thing. Maybe a dancer will put their own spin on a routine one night, while the other nights they decide to play it safe. Maybe that string quartet that looked boring will play Thunderstruck or the theme song to Star Wars instead of doing Canon in D...again. Believe me, I have seen it all. It sounds boring on paper, but so does a Slinky--and I get one hell of a kick every time I throw one down the stairs. Go once, and if you like it, try going again, and tell me that it was 100% identical to the first time. 

Live theatre can also help communities become aware of other cultures. Musicians travel all the time to get their sound heard, and their sounds could be a gateway to their background. Right now, we are living in a world of fear and aggression when it comes to the unfamiliar cultures around us, but we all share something universal: our love to be entertained. Music can fill in the gaps between two religions; dancing can show the connection between the ballet instructor and the break dancer who live on the same block or on opposite sides of the world; watching the conflict of another country onstage can create empathy where fear and aggression had once taken over. Theatre connects us. It binds the human want to understand and pulls us out of the ignorance that is being pushed on us by the media and politicians. We can become intrigued by the morals we share, we can become interested in another's sound or instrument, and we can cry at the beauty of every movement and interpretation. Theatre can penetrate where the movie can only scratch the surface: it's beauty and connectivity. 

It seems that entertainment has taken over our lives. It is easily accessible. We have Netflix, YouTube, memes, phone apps and video games, but Hollywood and their movies are staying on the top, and it's pushing the wonder of live theatre out of existence. Every town has a stage, and players to play on. Every city has a band waiting for a gig. Every state and province has a dancer breaking in those new shoes. Everyone has a reason to do or participate in live theatre, and there is only one way to find out where you fit into all of that: GO!

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