Theatre is outdated and should be replaced by cinema
Debate Rounds (5)
Is theatre an outdated idea that should be replaced by cinema?
I have researched many different areas of the topic on the internet. Firstly the statistics, it is suggested that 36% of the population visit the theatre, I was surprised at this and thought it was rather high, however 72% of people visit the cinema (based on America). This is twice the amount of people than visit the theatre so clearly it is more popular. Also the type of people visiting the cinema and the theatre is very different, the "connected survey of how teenagers use the media" states that 75% of teenagers visit the cinema every week! This is compared to 60% of people going to the theatre being working class professionals, so clearly young people visit the cinema much more than the theatre. I wanted to see why this is.
I looked into why teenagers and others do not to visit the theatre regularly. I came across articles such as "why do young people not go to the theatre?" This said that people believed that it was too expensive, so I looked into the process. On average a theatre ticket costs $7.93, obviously this depends on the theatre and the average price for the West End is "46.40 which is considerable more. At the breakdown of a theatre ticket cost is shows that 17% goes on tax, 42% goes on the cast, creative and marketing teams get 4% each, 17% goes on theatre rent, 5% on bills and 7% on general theatre staff. When I had work experience at the theatre I learnt that it costs over "1,000,000 a day to just run the theatre, when you understand this you can see that the profit margins of the theatres are actually incredibly small and that really the price is cheap. For a cinema ticket there is a lot fewer people involved it is just the cinema and the film itself so obviously it will be a bit cheaper but the difference is actually not that much at all. In fact the average cinema price is $7.95 which is more than theatre! Furthermore theatres set up many schemes for students like the Hippodrome "First Night" scheme where students can get tickets to many shows for either "5 or 2-4-1 so clearly theatres are trying to get students in their doors but lots of people still aren"t going.
Through my survey I have seen that 85% of people go to the cinema more regularly than the theatre and they suggested reasons why this was. The reoccurring theme was the price and also the accessibility. Within my area, (within about a 20 mile radius) there are about 15 professional and amateur theatres and 20 cinemas so there isn"t much difference. The nearest cinema to my area is about three miles away but my nearest theatre (be it not professional) is about a mile away and the professional theatre is only around three miles away. Even though people say t is accessibility and cost I have discovered that truly these things are not a problem so I think people just don"t want to go to the theatre or it isn"t advertised enough for them to know about it.
It is also difficult for actors and actresses as they are split between the medium of film and theatre. There are many articles I discovered showing different views on acting in films and in theatre. They all suggested that the two are incredible different and for an actor it is a very different experience. Theatre is seen to be harder to work with as there are no retakes at all and it is live so the actor has to be precise and the acting is far more organic. Furthermore there is far more movement as there are no camera angles and the actor has to work hard to react with the audience. In the acting world acting in theatre is regarded more highly as it is seen as more of a challenge but the most well-known actors are those in Hollywood films because we see their faces everywhere so that is where actors want to gravitate to.
As for the theatre being outdated it is an ancient art that originates from ancient religious ceremonies whereas the cinema has only been invented in the 20th century. The theatre is still very prestigious with the West End being well known across the world, plus every child studies Shakespeare at one point or another and many people visit Stratford upon Avon to see where he lived. He is world famous playwright and he is part of our history and theatre is part of our culture. Many years ago everyone would visit the theatre but nowadays it is a lot rarer. When I visit the theatre, there are always free seats and spaces available for people, I went to a ballet at the Hippodrome which is a famous theatre on a Saturday evening which is peak time and the theatre wasn"t even half full and the majority of the people there were pensioners, not people of my age group.
Theatre seems to be going out of fashion as the theatres themselves are really struggling, last year it was suggested that 3 out of 50 regional theatres were in deficit so obviously they aren"t as popular as they need to be s not enough people are visiting the theatre. Theatres are having to try and make more interesting, exciting and technological plays to try and get the audience in. 88% of people in my survey said they thought that theatre wasn"t outdated but they said they believed that it needed change and constant updating to move with the times. Many people believed theatre to be boring as many plays are put on over and over again whereas the cinema is always a different film. The theatre has to be booked in advance and thought taken over the process as the performances aren"t very often but the cinema can just be an impulse boking as there are so many different showings. Also films are advertised everywhere so people are aware of the film son but theatre doesn"t advertise in this way so many people have no idea what is on. Also there is still this ides that going to the theatre isn"t "cool" but the cinema is, teenagers would hardly ever go together to the theatre but going to the cinema together is the norm!
95% of people in my survey said that they enjoyed going to the theatre and 92% said that more people should go so obviously people don"t think that the theatre is outdated and it should be replaced by cinema. Yet 85% of people visited the cinema more than the theatre. I believe that the theatre is not outdated, I can remember the last theatre production I have seen vividly as it is such an experience but I haven"t a clue what I last watched at the cinema. It is a better experience, it is live and you can interact with the actors. Michael Bo, the artistic director of the RSC said that "cinema is a pale reflection of the art form" the live experience makes you feel as if you are really part of the story and you can really feel the story. Furthermore the theatre is spontaneous and exciting as it is there in front of you, I love going to the theatre and it is an important part of my life. However I feel that it is being replaced by cinema because the younger generation visit the cinema far more and they are the people who will grow up and have the money to pay for theatre tickets but they won"t go as they haven"t when they are younger so they won"t start. I don"t believe that the theatre is outdated because it has survived over 2,000 years and it is still going, the cinema may be popular at the moment but if a new technological invention comes a long everyone will want to visit that instead and more people than ever are pirating movies than visiting the cinema. The cinema could easily die out but the theatre is part of our culture so I don"t believe that it will fade as millions of students study drama each year which is based in theatre, not film.
I would love for more people to visit the theatre as I have learnt much from and love the experience. The cinema and the theatre are beginning to work together to provide all audiences with top quality drama, at my local cinema there are theatre performances streamed live to the cinema. Maybe this is the way forward to keep both mediums alive but I personally believe theatre is a key part of our culture and everyone should visit the theatre no matter their preconceptions.
First, the accessibility: you yourself hinted at the fact that way more people like the movies than theater, but you didn't get the why quite right. It's because of the fact that, with cinema, the dialogue and acting is generally easier (eg compare Interstellar with Shakespeare), and there's also not the difficulty of having to look at the stage from a certain angle, which (I'm sure theater goers can attest to this) almost always will make at least one or two scenes of the play not really visible to you, because the blocking's off or just because the action's happening on the other side. So it's more accessible in terms of dialogue and set-visibility.
Second, and most important of my 3 arguments, is the artistic potential of cinema relative to theater. In a word, cinema and movies have MORE potential for aesthetic merit and variation than theater and plays, because there are certain limitations you get when doing it in the flesh on a stage, live, as opposed to on the screen, for which the pre-produced movie has way more time and care into being made, can have computer animation, more immersive (IMMERSION IS A BIG POINT) music and setting, perfect blocking (the camera just needs to view in differently), etc. Plus, with theater, forget sci fi movies -- Interstellar could NEVER be adapted to the stage! (I can expand on this the most important point in later speeches).
Finally, the logistics, both the cost for the viewer (as you said, more for theater), AND the fact that it's incredibly expensive to put on a serious professional play-production every single night, while movies almost always make up what they cost, and cinema costs are less. Additionally, there are way more things that could go wrong with the set, or an actor getting sick the night before the show, with theater, while for a movie all you need to do is put in the dvd disk.
So, because it's more accessible, logical logistically, and (most important of all) a way riper aesthetic medium, I affirm
I don't agree that the cinema has more artistic potential in any way, I feel that the cinema is far more restricted, you say that people are more immersed in the cinema but I believe that the live performance and inclusion of the audience at the theatre leads to far more immersion than the dettatched audience at the cinema. It is much harder to get emotions across to a cinema audience than on the stage, because on the stage you see and feel everything as you are part of the performance. Of course you are right that the cinema can have more hi tec animation and that was interesting but that is increasingly becoming boring for the audience, I saw a review of the new hobbit film where several people were saying how the effects they had all seen before and there was nothing more to the film than special effects. The theatre doesn't rely on this it relys on good quality acting to carry the performance, not effects. The theatre don't need lots of effects because the performance is visibly live where as the cinema need to make their audience believe that it is real. However, if you do want effects then there are many theatres that do them, at the hippodrome, I have seen flying motor bikes, cars, fireworks, a range of lights and all sorts. The theatre can do effects too.
Logistics is an important point, the actors may be ill but they have under covers, theatre has been successful for thousands of years so how can you doubt the theatre now after it has survived that long? It is expensive to put on a show but nowhere near as expensive as making a film, theatre also pays more people more fairly whereas film gives millions to those who already have it. The theatre survives economically in a range of ways by either being a company putting on a performance and getting paid by a theatre or the theatre does the performance itself and gains all the revenue. Also you forget that whilst there is the money for a film, what about the money for the thousand of cinemas? the staff? the upkeep of the toilets? the money to keep the electricity running? Cinema has the same costs as a theatre but just thousands of times more because there are thousands of cinemas showing one film.
I understand your views about logistics and accessibility but I believe that theatre is accessible and logistically possible as it has been for thousands of years, I don't agree that the movie is a riper medium because the possibilities for theatre are endless whereas with cinema people are already getting tired of special effects, endless adverts, ridiculous glasses, the same actors/actresses and just over 90 mins of entertainment.
http://www.culturewest.org...), nearly thrice what I expect we'd find the average cinema ticket to be. In Seattle, ACT Theater costs average around 40-50 dollars (http://www.thestranger.com...), explaining why people don't go to the live shows as much anymore; the Guthrie Theatre's average costs: http://www.guthrietheater.org..., the lowest of which rival and beat out the highest of cinema costs. Additionally, there's an even greater disparity when it comes to quote-unquote premium tickets, for which prices range such that most wouldn't want, and a lot wouldn't be able, to see these higher-class shows (http://www.theguardian.com...). And when you bring up the high production costs of movies, two answers: 1) you're only looking at the box-office hits; look instead to more arthouse, indie type flicks; 2) again, the cost of the VAST majority of these movies (as well as the costs of toilet upkeep and other things like that in the cinemas themselves, to which you alluded) are more than made up for by how many people flock to these; otherwise agencies like Marvel et al wouldn't make them, cuz they wouldn't be fiscally feasible.
So I think I've demonstrated my point in that. Now, onto accessibility, the first of my Round 1 points (Just did 3rd, logistics/cost): I concede that we don't need to watch or, if we do watch, fully understand every word of Shakespeare. But I think the other side of this arg is the more important one, and the one Pro is stronger in: that is, seat visibility. (Onto this argument I'd like to add Audibility; because of the surround sound nature of cinema relative to the need for projection in live theater and all the variables that can come about from the shape of the auditorium or room, etc in terms of acoustics, the sound readiness and ease of hearing is WAY better in cinemas, which is obviously a huge deal). But, seat visibility: you say it's up to the person buying the ticket for where they sit: I say there is no seat in a theater that has an equal and all-seeing perspective/angle, and that's precisely the problem -- everyone's seeing a slightly different play. Even if you don't think that's a big deal, still look to the fact that with theater, those who have less money and thus are forced to buy less upfront seats are likely to enjoy the show less as a result -- cinemas in this respect are actually way more inclusive/democratic (cross apply here how this is the same with general costs, the better-off are way more apt to see a show than the poorer, making theater elitist compared to cinema).
Additionally, let's couch the Immersion/Immersiveness debate into the Accessibility point: you say theater is more immersive because you're up close to the set and because there's an appeal to the interactive aspects of being so close to the set: I say to the first that, well , you can be close to the screen, and to the second, that the interactivity of plays only goes so far -- when watching plays I feel more isolated than watching movies: and that's my response to both your Immersion claims grouped together, that the fact that you're sitting in a dark room in the cinema with a huuge wide screen with great graphics that make you feel like you're there , with great surround sound, insulated from the outside world for a precious few hours, makes cinema equally, if not more, immersive than live theater. Additionally, even if you buy literally none of my above claims to the immersion debate, in the end the argument is a wash on both sides because it's ultimately up to the individual, especially with immersiveness -- I'm fully aware that some feel more in-the-moment in a theater, but I personally feel more so in a cinema, as do many others; if anything, still cinema wins, because MORE people prefer cinema, obviously, over theater for immersion, so maybe there is some hint of objectively immersive traits. I can't believe someone sitting in Interstellar theater didn't feel a visceral gutwrenching immersion in that very moment
Finally, the most important part of the debate: artistic potential. First, to your saying that theater has to rely on acting, I say that so does cinema -- some of the best actors ever lived work for movies, and no movie is good, even if it has great effects, if the acting blows. Next, you say people get sick of the effects; but if they're used judiciously and not just thrown onto the screen for the sake of coolness, they can obviously compliment the main aspects of the film in a way that could never be achieved in theater -- you say fireworks, motorcycles, etc. but this obviously pales in comparison with all that can be done with computer effects, mixing computer with real world, etc in cinema. Plus, there's an expansiveness of sets that can't be achieved in theater -- trying making a surreal Lynchian world in live theater, you can't do it!
Just to re-emphasize the point, in cinema, all artistic potencies/possibilities latent in theater are SUBSUMED ; cinemas often show theater productions on the big screen, in which case all the artistry is transfered into cinema's domain. meanwhile, theater can never HOPE to subsume all that was done with the likes of Interstellar, Inception, etc.
Additionally, cut aways that would be awkward in theater due to overlong set changes; music that can't be fathomed in live theater; and angle changes that are literally impossible (eg switching quickly from bird'seye view to, zooming in, microscopic level) in theater, all make it so that you have to agree with Pro
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