Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Didn't I Just Say I Need To Stop Talking About Her? Ann Althouse Doesn't Get It. I think.

Never can be sure if she's doing that devil's advocate shit, or if she's really that (and I want to be kind. I am grasping for the right phrasing here,) jejune, but I am perplexed by her question. If it's not her doing the devil's advocate thing. (Which is sorta intellectually dishonest to me. Outside of the classroom, that is.)

Anyway, the question followed her post of a link to a scathing review of Spiderman, the cursed Broadway musical. (As an aside, I do have a weak spot for cursed shows. Can't say how soon I will try to get to see it, though.)

Anyway, she asked out loud, why do people go to see live theatre when we have movies? Here.

Ok. I really don't want to do this the cheap shot way, but the cheeky sarcastic reply to that question is the following question: "Why do people still have real sex when they can cyber and sext?"

Now to get serious with the answer. Because it's so different an experience that it is a different experience.

I'm not going to repeat one my why I go to the Opera or the Ballet stories here. That would be a waste of keystrokes. But I will recount one episode from my time in summer stock. We were doing that year, along with a couple other shows in repertory, Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. I had one of those throng parts. Soldier in Don Pedro's Army. No lines, but still part of the show. And to explain, the theatre building was the university's former gym, built in the early 1900s, and had this massive vault of a peaked roof. And that was home to at least one bat. So one performance, during the scene that is taking place before Hero's tomb, as if on cue, our resident bat came down and did a few loops of the cast on stage. I think the bat got close to me, as I was holding my torch. I don't think bats like lights, but compared to the stage lights, my sterno can flame did not seem scary to the bat. I guess. Oh. And Mr. Bat only buzzed the stage that one time, that season, during a performance.

That's why people still go to see live theatre. Not because of the unintended appearance of bats, but because there is a element of uniqueness to each performance. Each performance is a new work of art, and a new shared experience. Again, it's not about being static. It's a fluid and properly dynamic experience.

Ok. Just to point out the other side, I remember being in high school and dying to see The Empire Strikes Back. I saw it the week it came out. And over the next few weeks I saw it two more times. Now the first time, I was totally blown away. During the second time, I still enjoyed the brilliant special effects enough to think, ya I can see this again. And during the third time, my eye was good enough to start deconstructing the gags. Ya. Cause there was nothing new to see, except the parts I wasn't supposed to. As an aside, I guess I have/had the eye for that kind of detail. I did go in that direction for my first career. Anyway.

The point is, each time you see a movie, it's supposed to be the same. Relentlessly the same. But a play? It's supposed to be mostly the same. But only mostly. Nuances matter. God. Right now David Tennant and Catherine Tate are doing MaDo in London. And those two have a year of doing Doctor Who with each other already. So their timing and their reparte as the comic set of lovers in MaDo has to be producing some great moments. Really great actors who really get on well can put on some interesting, different performances night to night. Even if they never ad lib on the words, there are moments that change, night to night.

Oh. And it's a tribal thing. Live theatre is as old as human communication and living socially. It's in our genes. Much more so, than sitting in a large room watching flickering lights and images on a wall. That's only about 100 years old. And even if watching a movie in a theatre can be a shared group experience, it's just not the same. Not by a long shot.

I'll stop there. I have rambled enough, I recon.

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