Curtains Up!

It amazes me that we will sit in line over night, in a driving rain, to see the latest movie. But ask anyone of your friends to go see a live play and they often times will think up a million reasons to not go. Lets look at the difference.

A movie can be seen for months – even years after its initial release. The movie will always be the same experience, with the same actors, sets and costumes, and unless it is released in 3D it will always give you the same experience.

A live play is only around 2, maybe 3 weekends. While the actors will, most of the time, complete the entire run, sometimes the understudy will take a major role. The costumes will flow with the wind and the lines can vary depending on the energy in the audience that night. Once it is over, you will never have the opportunity to experience it again.

A movie will cost you about $7 for a matinee, $9 for an evening show. A live play generally runs around $12, but the cost evens out when you get to refreshments. Popcorn and soda at a movie will easily remove that $10 bill from your wallet, while the live show has soda and candy for a mere $1 each.

Often times the live show will even allow you a break during the action in the form of intermission, making refills of your favorite snack as well as a bit of conversation to discuss plot and story line an enjoyable experience.

All of this seems to lean to the side of the live performance being a great way to spend an evening or Sunday afternoon.

So, why did I just attend the latest show at the Helfaer Theatre with roughly only 20 other people in attendance?

It isn’t due to cost (see second paragraph above).

Could it be because it wasn’t a “known show”? Seriously?

That excuse just doesn’t sit well with me – I mean – with the exception of Star Wars how often do you go see a movie and already know the storyline? OK – I’ll give you that the movie has probably been written up in every paper and teasers have flooded the theater, but hey – we do that for the Helfaer’s shows. Don’t believe me? Check out the many different avenues taken to get the word out – flyers, buttons, websites, electronic newsletters and friends of the theatre; there was a talk back and a introduction speech on two separate occasions – perfect chance to discuss the human condition and the place of science in the world.

It couldn’t be for lack of rehearsal by the actors-it was obvious that many hours of work went into this production.

In fact, the show I saw was excellent. I could tell that the cast and crew worked long and hard to assure that I had a professional level experience. I was not disappointed. The afternoon was sunny, but I didn’t see too many people out so I am wondering what could have kept them away from seeing the show. I’m sure that it couldn’t have been a show on television (I checked, but nothing good was on), or maybe the latest video game was keeping them inside and out of the seats, perhaps it was studying for mid terms – no, that is at least a week away, plenty of time to study.

So what could it be?

I’m hoping it isn’t because they forgot – I sent out plenty of notices, flyers were posted everywhere, and trailers were created and playing on YouTube to help advertise the show. So the only thing that makes sense is that people have forgotten the value of live theater.

The value of great art and a strong storyline. The joy of seeing the action play out right before you. No CGI, no green screens, no digital animation – just good, strong acting.

From as far back as man can document live theater has been the entertainment of choice. But not today, today we have so much more to look forward to, we can sit on our couch and let the world come to us. We can have food delivered and never have to change out of our pajamas. That way we don’t have to socialize or take the chance at learning of a new author or playwright that may just broaden our understanding of the world we live in. We don’t have to think or go deeper into understanding. We can just be.

I know you probably didn’t even think of those things. It has been a long time since live theater received the respect it deserves, so lets start a new trend. The final show of this season is “The Comedy of Errors” by William Shakespeare.

To make it easier for you here is a quick summary: Egeon, a merchant of Syracuse, is condemned to death in Ephesus for violating the ban against travel between the two rival cities. As he is led to his execution, he tells the Ephesian Duke, Solinus, that he has come to Syracuse in search of his wife and one of his twin sons, who were separated from him 25 years ago in a shipwreck. The other twin, who grew up with Egeon, is also traveling the world in search of the missing half of their family. (The twins, we learn, are identical, and each has an identical twin slave named Dromio.) The Duke is so moved by this story that he grants Egeon a day to raise the thousand-mark ransom that would be necessary to save his life.

OK – I don’t want to give up too much – but if you want to know more you can always check out the play from the library.

It may seem like a lot of time to give up, but give it a try. You can sit back and relax, turn off your phone and instead of multitasking, focus on one thing for a while. It will be the best gift you can give yourself, and I can guarantee – you won’t be disappointed.

In case you’re interested – here are those websites I mentioned!
http://diederich.marquette.edu/COC/Theatre-Arts.aspx
http://diederich.marquette.edu/COC/Mainstage-Season.aspx

Trailers can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5PmxikL8VQ&list=UUA0LZmQZpgzZBt99PrieZTA&index=1&feature=plcp

Hope to see you at the next play – in fact – stop in and I’ll sit next to you – refreshments are on me!

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