Go out and enjoy live entertainment

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Rising during the 20th century, the American film industry has grown to great heights. Cinema has dominated the entertainment industry, surpassing even the greatest theatre productions that were once one of the few sources of storytelling. With cinema, actors no longer had to perform live, there was more room for visual effects and with the march of technology, people can now access cinematic productions on their own time and wherever they please.

While these new developments of entertainment and storytelling are ones to be celebrated, it is equally saddening to recognize the decline of theatre production in modern society. Yes, we have Broadway, and even here in Hammond there are multiple plays put on each semester, but those who remain genuinely passionate about theatre seem few and far between. When the Western theatrical tradition took root in Ancient Greece, theatre and oral tradition were the only forms of storytelling. That is clearly not the case now, and as decades continue, it seems more artists are flooding to the film industry, leaving theatre behind. 

Despite film being enjoyed by a greater number of people, as Friday night ticket sales clearly tell us, theatre remains an important and necessary part of society. Not only do they embody the beginning of visual storytelling, but they are a critical means of carrying the great works of arts to future generations. The great works of William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde and Tennessee Williams are only a small number of works that have lived on primarily through theatre.

Art is important in the basic human existence. At the beginning of time, humans were drawing on walls, dancing and chanting songs. Theatre is one of the few art forms that stays true to its original form.

Film is a different medium, not a substitution for live performance. Most cinematic adaptations of plays and even novels alter the material to meet the different demands of the screen so much that they are rarely what one would gain from reading the play or seeing it done as the writer originally attended. There have been many cinematic adaptations of Shakespeare’s work dating back to the beginning of the art form in the 19th century, yet watching his work on screen is simply not the same experience as seeing it performed live.

Plays were meant for the stage and often do not translate well to other media. Movies often call for realism, while theatre can be more dramatic and overdone. This reinforces the importance of theatre in today’s world because theatre is one of our only accesses to some of history’s greatest works in their truest form.

I do not see theatre disappearing from modern society anytime soon, but I hope for more to recognize the unique art form it is. Acting on stage is exceptionally different from acting on film, and it is a great talent to behold. 

This past week alone, the Vonnie Borden Theatre hosted the debut of an original theatrical production while the Columbia Theatre presented a 17th century Shakespeare play.

This is another boon of theatre: it gives us access to art both classic and modern. Great lessons are often taught through such works, no matter their vintage, and I encourage you to stop into the theater next time you see a play featuring. You may never know what you could gain, nevertheless enjoy.