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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 9 2013: Both Wayne Uejio and Sean Brother have hit the nail on the head, I think. Theatre is first and foremost and entertainment. But that is not to belittle it, the art from of Theatre is incredibly important to the human condition. Like Sean Brother said before, it gives us a chance to look at ourselves; the play or production puts a small facet of the human experience under the microscope. The audience receives entertainment, and the actor can receive the beautiful experience of existing as someone else.
    But first and foremost it is all entertainment. And as the years go by, you do see this switch in Theatre, as you see it in all other art forms. Both the artists and the audiences tastes change, and with the changing world we live in, it is becoming harder for theatre to draw in the crowds. That is not to say that theatre will ever be a dead medium, because I believe as long as there is the need for a man to connect to his fellow man, theatre will be present.
  • 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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    Aug 8 2013: In deep, theater and cinematograph they two have the same basis: our wishe, as humans, to see how we are and what we do from an outer perspective. Something like watching ourselves doing things to know how we really are and how the others see us.
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    Aug 8 2013: Theater's 'job' was only ever to sell tickets in exchange for entertainment.How do you justify your far-reaching view otherwise.
    • Sep 6 2013: Theatre originated from primitive dance, where they used it to tell of hunts and teach the history of the tribe to children.
  • Aug 31 2013: How did we get there, two reasons:

    1 the ancient Greeks died.
    2 The Mentality - "whatever sells - screw the rest."
    3 Entertain - dont educate.

    2 & 3 you may notice are not solely in the theatre, they are everywhere....
  • Aug 12 2013: The theatre is a place where people can be themselves. It also convey the culture and ideas through various forms. But the most important thing is human being enjoying the art. It has to be a comfortable place for human in that we can imagine and express our inner feeling:-P
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    Aug 9 2013: Hi David:)

    I believe the modern "duty" of theater - like that of all other ART- is to inspire growth and creativity in a positive direction and enhance civilization - ( its a major responsibility :)

    Here is great inspiration:
    http://www.ted.com/talks/patsy_rodenburg_why_i_do_theater.html
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    Aug 8 2013: I would guess that there were always different kinds of theatre, and different levels of quality.
  • Aug 8 2013: Let me disagree with you. As some other commentators have said the job of the theater is to entertain. All the things you listed are secondary - good things but secondary and non existent if no one goes to the theater because the play was not entertaining.

    We have many more forms to get entertainment from and this makes it harder on the theater. Nothing can replace a live performance in its unpredictability and connection to the audience but there has to be something there to keep people in their seats.

    Even Shakespeare understood that. In each of his places, there is a character to appease the groundlings. A good example is the Nurse in "Romeo and Juliet".
    • Sep 6 2013: Check out Floyd Collins. Not very entertaining piece of theatre, but necessary.
      • Sep 6 2013: have not seen the play but believe a Billy Wilder film "Ace in the Hole" was based loosely on Collins and it was a great picture and entertaining but very dark.
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    Aug 8 2013: Attracting people to theatre halls when people have many options just click away
  • Aug 8 2013: Also Do not forget entertain.
  • Sep 7 2013: Again to all who responded...thank you.
  • Sep 6 2013: First ... Love all of your comments.
    Who am I...I'm a professional theatre automation operator and programmer who works back and forth between shaw theatre and stratford theatre in Canada. I am not commenting because I want your opinion's as honest patrons.
    Thank you all so much.

    David