Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Why Theatre Matters

An interesting read came across my desk this morning, because it mentioned Marvin's Room, by Scott McPherson, the first show of our current season. It relates the history of the AIDS epidemic as a part of theatrical history, and makes some interesting points. My favorite? Emphasis is mine.
But no illness, no disease, no pandemic EVER has given rise to a vast body of dramatic literature...until AIDS. There are individual works about polio or cancer or mental illness but not a continuum of works, not a cohesive and evolving and expanding collection of works as there is about AIDS now, and going forward. The reasons why are several. First, theater always is the art form that responds most quickly and accessibly to the world around it. Plays are written in the vernacular and generally lack some of the levels of abstraction of music or dance or some works of visual arts.
Theatre has been doing this for a long long time. Some of the theatre of ancient Greece was specifically topical and was written to publicly address political themes and current events. I think this timely response to world events is why theatre has survived, even in the days of television and film. Anyway, the whole article is interesting, so go read it. Why do you think theatre still matters in this world of Hollywood big budget spectacles?

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