Is theatre dead?

Film, Television and the growth of Electronic Media have become the shapers of our modern day popular culture. Realism rules the day as the foremost common denominator and dramatic style of these art forms. We strive in this entertainment for an ever increasing bombardment of what is graphic and real. Television resorts to docudramas, Film favors the graphic close-up and video games fine tune computer generated images of sex and violence.

How is the Theatre to survive when the competing mediums "do" realism so much better. Theatre is the parent art of film and television, yet in order for it to survive the digital revolution I believe it must make use of the one factor that makes it different from all the other performing arts. The future of the theatre rest in it's ability to use the crucial element of living, breathing human being's that bring with them a wealth of experience, perceptions and emotions. I believe live theatre is at it's best when it transcends mere realism and ventures into the realm of the spiritual and ritualistic. This of course creates incredible demands on the actor's instrument and the director needs to address these demands foremost during the rehearsal process. What is most difficult is to teach a craft that engenders content for the actor when he/she must live up to the language, style and ideas of a playwright. I believe that the concept of the "total actor" as an artist who can access the deepest levels of his being is a goal the director must consider to some extent in his approach to non-realism.

Non-realistic plays explore reality through the manipulation of three elements; TIME, SPACE and ACTION. Design elements play a crucial role and the director must work closely with his fellow artists allowing their creativity to flow unrestrained within the limits of the directors interpretation of the text. But like all theatrical drama what is ultimately crucial for success is the use of the living actor. As long as performers are still human and act in the here and now the theatre cannot die.

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