Decades ago, there was a time when the theatre in all its forms functioned as the social heart for communities around the world. Before the mainstream acceptance of television, performance theatre acted as society’s script that directed a community and attracted different professionals and social players to bond on the same page. Communities united to watch different performances and discussed the message together at intermission, after the show, at work, and at home.
The social strength of a community is reflected in the importance that its people place on having a diverse theatre presence, which is evident in the world’s most multicultural metropolises such as Paris, London, New York and Toronto. The creation and maintenance of a multifarious performance theatre community must never be neglected as it represents the artistic evolution of culture and encourages discussion between politicians, artists, scientists and businessmen. Thus, theatre acts as the intermediary and social facilitator for each culture.
In Afghanistan, since the regime fall of the Taliban, a theater festival has opened in Kabul and will showcase a play written and performed by women, which is a massive progression unheard of three years ago when most women were not permitted to leave the house. For these women the theatre is the primary method of expressing and advocating a modern, democratic Afghanistan.
It is worrisome to see the performance theatre and the humanity it encompasses is losing its audience, while the more isolationist sources of entertainment are attracting us to stay at home and remain unsociable.
The Theatre Communications Group, which monitors the financial position of not-for-profit theatre companies in America, reports that although overall attendance has increased 4.2% from 1999-2003 these numbers are attributed to the baby boom generation, raised on attending the theatre, and has not translated to the younger audiences. Over a five year period, attendance of children-series performances has declined 12.4%, despite valuable efforts to increase the amount of child theatre productions.
For this reason the Ross Petty production of Aladdin stars Bret “Hitman” Hart, famous for his televised wrestling matches with the World Wrestling Federation, which is a blatant publicity tactic to attract youth interest back to the theatre.
Many speculations can be made regarding why younger generations are avoiding the theatre, including the heightened entertainment value of personal technology like television or the perception that theatre is no longer socially cool. The bottom line is that the older generations have not transferred the significance of theatre upon the youth. Without theatre our future generations may grow into a less diverse culture: where physically socializing becomes a conversation of the past.
Support your local theatre:
Waterloo park’s own Perimeter Institute for theoretical physics, the beautiful galactic building designed by Montreal based architects Gilles Saucier and Andre Perrotte, has recently initiated an on-going performance theatre to connect science, culture and the community. The Grammy award winning chamber group the Kronos Quartet, playing on February the 1st, will be the first performance in the buildings history, and will mark the beginning of many more shows to follow. Through the various artistic performances the research facility, which is normally closed to the general public, directly connects with the community by opening its doors and promoting both artistic creativity and their own research achievements. Order tickets online at www.perimeterinstitute.ca or call 519-883-4480.