by Makrenna Rose Sterdan
Many people who do theatre talk about how theatre is a dying art.
The audiences are smaller every year. It's so hard to get people out to see live performance art. People would rather go see sporting events, or stay home and watch a movie. Or, maybe go to the movie theatres to watch a movie with more visual spectacle than live theatre.
Despite its longevity, theatre is a dying form of art.
But will theatre ever die?
I hypothesise it will not. No, I don't think it'll necessarily make a comeback. I don't think the number of audience members will necessarily rise to their former glory. It may never bounce back to the days of ancient Greece or Shakespeare's The Globe Theatre.
But theatre will never die.
Do you know why?
Theatre will never die because it is a unique form of art, and there will always be a niche of people who love it.
Theatre will never die because there will always be people with enough money to produce theatre, regardless of the number of audience members. There will always be middle class theatre students who produce their own shows, and don't bat an eyelash when they make next to nothing.
There will always be people with day jobs, who rehearse on the weekends and produce a show. Regardless of how many people actually show up and the amount of money they make, they will have enjoyed the process of making theatre.
In both these scenarios, the audiences will be filled with friends and family of the actors, mixed with some theatre lovers.
There will always be theatre lovers and friends/family of actors to fill the audience. Enough to make putting on a show worthwhile . . . though maybe not enough to make a profit, or make a living.
And that is both a good thing and a bad thing.
It's a good thing because people will revel in the creation of theatre, enjoying the process, and sharing the process with people who also love theatre. To that end, theatre will never die, and that's amazing.
To that thing also, it's a bad thing because only people with money will be able to produce and attend theatre. As less and less audience members go see theatre, it becomes something people with money do. It becomes a sign of status rather than a form of art.
We shouldn't be worrying about theatre dying: we should be worried about theatre becoming exclusive.
We should be worried about theatre becoming an exclusive form of art for people with enough money to tell stories.
Sure, art is a job. But it's a job of portraying the lives of people regardless of their walk of life. The more expensive art is to create, the more exclusive it becomes, and the more art produces a singular viewpoint from a single walk of life.
So we shouldn't be asking, "Will theatre die?" and start asking, "How do we keep theatre from becoming exclusive?"
Makrenna Rose Sterdan
Owner, Red Lips Productions
Makrenna is a producer and writer from Winnipeg, Manitoba. She started Red Lips Productions in the summer of 2018, and has been producing several shorts and web series since. Her main passion is writing, but she also produces and directs when the opportunity arises.