Every new generation that comes along decides theatre is dying. Truly there are no new thoughts.
I recently joined a group on LinkedIn for theatre artists (partly in an attempt to understand what LinkedIn can really do for me,) and now I receive emails updating me on all the “conversations” happening in the group.
(I love how LinkedIn so badly wants to be the FB for professionals. Now if only G+ could figure out what it wants to be when it grows up, perhaps someday the interwebs will be complete…..but I digress.)
The first time I saw the topic come up I dismissed it. The second time I saw it come up, I thought, “Why are you talking about this?!”
It brought back memories of my youth, when people were concerned that the invention of home videos would kill the cinema business (because now you could rent movies and not go to them) and the creation of electronic music (which could recreate the sounds of other instruments) would kill the orchestral and music careers of musicians everywhere.
For decades there have been worries that other forms of entertainment would sound a death knell on the theatre going in big and small cities.
It’s just not going to happen.
Yes, there’s competition, but the real competition is from the company or playwright or director down the street who has a better piece than you. If anything keeps people from going to the theatre—assuming they’re people who like to see live theatre, which is not everyone—it’s the quality of the work being done.
The other day I joined a group of actors in a reading of Tennessee Williams’ Camino Real. Written almost sixty years ago, it still resonates and it still reflects our current world and culture. Perhaps not in the same way it did when it premiered but it’s still relevant.
Good writing, good work. It doesn’t die.
So neither can the theatre.