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The modern duty of theatre.

Theatre's job in the past was to convey culture, show people other parts of the world, educate, and inspire critical thinking about those things. Later is was a social status and a closed art group. Now we have "Rock of Ages" and "The Book of Mormon". How did we get here from there?


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  • Aug 11 2013: First of all, I would disagree with the original principle that you began with: that theatre was originally used to "convey culture" etc. It is easy to think this when we look back in school and college at old plays and dissect the political and cultural meaning of the particular play. But actually, theatre has always been primarily based on entertainment - but I'm not going to expand on this point too far because I don't think it directly relates to the main question that you're asking, which is "what is the modern duty of theatre?" Although, I should state that theatre's aim, even in the past, was to entertain.

    Secondly, people have always been critical of modern advances in theatre - take Shakespeare for example: when his plays were being performed in the globe theatre it wasn't the aristocracy who came to view them. It was the poor, common, uneducated man who flocked to the theatre. The wealthy, "intelligent" ruling class of that era scoffed at the plays and were appalled at the vulgarity of his plays (much in the same way that you criticize modern theatre); yet now, they are classed as some of the greatest pieces of English language ever written.

    Of course, I am not saying that "Rock of Ages" is as deep and meaningful as a Shakespearian play. All I'm trying to say is that all throughout history people have decried modern theatre - yet years afterwards, people dissect the plays and realise that they had more meaning that it had appeared. I am not particularly familiar with the book of Mormon - but it seems to me that this piece of theatre reflects modern attitudes towards religious zeal and offers an insight into the way that religion is viewed in modern society - and just because that view is expressed in a humorous way (in the same way that Shakespeare expressed ideas in comedies such as: "Much ado about nothing") should not detract from the deeper meaning.

    Modern theatre has the same place as it always has had - to express the views of modern society.

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