Curtains Up!

By Carole Burns

Photo from Marquette University's production of "Defying Gravity." Photo: Marquette University IMC.

Image from Marquette University's production of "Defying Gravity." Photo: Marquette University IMC.

It amazes me that some people will sit in line over night, in a driving rain, to see the latest movie. But ask the same people to see a live play, and they often times will think up a million reasons to not go.

Let’s 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.

A live play might be around for only a few weeks. Unlike movies, many different things can happen at a live show. While the actors will most of the time complete the entire run, sometimes the understudy will take a major role. The lines can vary depending on the energy in the audience that night. And once it is over, you will never have the opportunity to experience it the exact same way ever 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 some live shows might have 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.

All of this works together to make live performance an enjoyable experience, and a great way to spend an evening or Sunday afternoon.

A great example of this was the recent production of “Defying Gravity” that I saw at the Helfaer Theatre, which was excellent. It was apparent that the cast and crew worked had worked long and hard to assure the audience had a great experience.

The afternoon that I saw the play was sunny, but I didn’t see too many people outside. This made me wonder just what could have kept more people from being in the audience. I’m sure that it wasn’t due to the programs on television (I checked, and nothing good was on that day). Maybe it was the latest video game keeping them inside their homes and out of the auditorium seats, or perhaps the students were studying for mid terms.

The only thing that really explains it is that people have forgotten the value of live theater. The joy of seeing the action play out right in front of ones eyes. No computer graphics or special effects, no green screens, no digital animation—just a good story and strong acting.

For a long time, live theater had been the entertainment of choice. But these days we can choose to sit on our couch and let the world come to us. We can have food delivered and never even have to change out of our pajamas if we prefer. It may be convenient, but in doing so, we miss the chance to broaden our understanding of the world in which live.

These are things that a lot of us never consider. It has been a long time since live theater received the attention that it deserves, so let’s start a new trend. The final show of the Marquette Performing Arts Mainstage season is “The Comedy of Errors” by William Shakespeare. It starts this April, and I recommend that you check it out. 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.

Carole J. Burns is the Director of the Wakerly Technology Training Center at Marquette University. Follow her on Twitter @burnsy1217.

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The opinions expressed here are those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of Marquette University or the Diederich College of Communication.

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