For thousands of years, people have been telling stories to each other. With today’s technology, these stories can reach millions of people all over the world. But we still prefer the old-fashioned way: stories told live, in front of a rapt audience. Here are six reasons why we think live theatre is so much better than the movies.
More immediacy. This is the most obvious difference between the movies and live theatre: In the movies, the events unfolding aren’t really happening before your eyes; they’re being projected onto a screen. In theatre, things are happening right in front of you. What you’re seeing hasn’t been edited to perfection, or tried again and again until the director was happy with the cut. There’s a chance anything could go wrong, which makes everything that happens onstage more exciting than what happens onscreen. And when things go right despite all the things that could go wrong, it makes a good show just about miraculous.
Better talent. There’s a reason why accomplished theatre actors are considered a cut above movie and television actors, even in Hollywood. An actor in a movie gets a lot of chances to get it right. Movie actors go through a scene again and again, with the director filming from different angles and directions. A theatre actor doesn’t get those chances. He has to do every scene perfectly, every time. Movie directors can mask a lot of deficiencies in their actors, but in theatre, the acting has to be flawless to pull off a good show. You’re just seeing a higher standard of acting in a live theatre performance.
In addition, if there’s a stunt to be done or a song to be sung in a movie, the director can go out and find a stunt double, or dub the voice of the best singer he can find for his actors’ songs. In live theatre, the actors are responsible for every facet of their characters’ time on stage. They have to do their own stunts and sing their own songs-and get it right every time. Theatre actors tend to be much more multitalented than movie actors, which adds considerably to their performances.
More powerful storytelling. Movie directors often don’t film scenes in sequence. Movie actors usually don’t have any idea what the finished product will be until they see it at the premier. Theatre actors, on the other hand, are completely in tune with the narrative flow of the story they’re telling. They understand the way the tension builds as the story unfolds-a luxury that movie actors usually don’t get. This is a major reason why theatre is just more compelling than the movies. Theatre actors get to perform their story in chronological order, with a strong understanding of what has to happen in every scene to effectively tell the story. As a result, a story told on the stage is much more gripping than a story told on the screen.
Better sound quality. Even if your local movie theatre has the most cutting-edge sound technology, there’s no gadget on earth that can replace the sound of a live show. Movie directors dub music in after shooting a scene to create a soundtrack, but during a live musical, the sound is produced right there. It adds to the immediacy of the acting-the characters can respond to the music much more easily. It also asks much more of the actors than movies do-especially if the actors are singing. You’ll be treated to a much more high-quality performance in live theatre. In addition, live performances just sound better. It’s hard to find anyone to disagree with the statement that a live orchestra, with live singers, sounds better than recorded music.
A chance to meet the artists. There’s no way you’ll ever be able to meet Brad Pitt or Nicole Kidman after you see their latest movies. But if you’ve ever stayed for a few minutes after a live show-especially in the smaller theatres-you’ll find that many actors like to go out and greet the audience. You won’t always get a chance to have your program autographed by the actors in the play, or tell them how much you loved the performance-but it’s a great deal more likely with live theatre.
A variety of staging. When you go to a movie, you can expect the same thing every time. You enter a darkened room. You settle into your seat, with the wide screen hanging in front of the audience, and you watch the movie in silence. Afterwards, the lights go up, and you leave as the credits roll.
In theatre, you never can be quite sure what to expect. True, many theatres are arranged like the movies-the stage is in front of the audience, slightly raised, and the audience watches in darkness and silence. However, with theatre, there are lots of variations. Sometimes actors make their way down the aisles or emerge from the audience seating. Sometimes the stage projects into the audience, with spectators on three or even four sides. Sometimes the lights are left on, and the audience is expected to participate. There are plays with a great deal of actor-audience interaction and improvisation that can make a live show much more exciting and unpredictable than a movie. When you go to a live theatre event, you really never know what’s going to happen.
We love live theatre – and we expect that after just a few shows, you’ll agree with us that theatre is better than the movies. In live theatre, the stories are more gripping, the actors more talented, and the experience more exciting. Next time you’re thinking about what to do this weekend, check out the theatres in your area instead of the movie listings. You won’t be sorry you did!