15 February, 2018

Theater for the People - An Essay for The X Mag

The Power of Women Issue of The X Magazine by TodayTix 

When the storytelling goes bad in society, the result is decadence” — Aristotle

In olden days, as the song goes, theater was the art form of the people. There were no cost barriers keeping people from the theater. It was simply an expected, shared sociological experience.

Theater’s earliest origins extend back to Ancient Greece, where participation in the Festival of Dionysus, a multi-day cultural event, was a requirement of citizenship. Theater was not about celebrities or spectacle; it was about telling stories for the purpose of the public having a cathartic experience together. Aristotle defined it as “the purification of the spirit…by witnessing the playing out of such emotions or ideas on stage.” The result is positive change.

Flash forward several centuries to Renaissance England, where the works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries reigned supreme. While plays were commissioned by and performed at the pleasure of the royals, anyone could get a seat or standing room for a few pence and enjoy entertainment in the company of kings and queens. After all, the whole point of theater is to make it accessible to the wider public.

Cut-to 20th century Europe, where Bertold Brecht, the great German playwright and director, established the Berliner Ensemble and made theater accessible to and for the people as an essential tool for the recognition of social injustice, and  as a means of effecting social change.

Today, Broadway has become a purview of the elite, with premium ticket prices skyrocketing to more than $1000 to certain shows. Theater is, at its essence, a thoroughly social art form, therefore it cannot be experienced in solitude. If we can't get people into the theaters — whatever their socioeconomic reality might be — then we are not doing our jobs as theatremakers.

But TodayTix is helping change the perception of and access to theater, particularly through its rush and lottery tickets. While lotteries and rushes have existed for a while, not everyone has the flexibility to wait outside the box office in the morning or enter their name in a drawing at the theater. With the app, anyone can buy rush tickets or enter a lottery. You can even share your entry on Twitter and Facebook to up your chances of winning.  Theater is a social art form, and social media is making it even more accessible.

But more than ever, in fractious times like these when there is great fear and even greater uncertainty, theater can be a place of emotional and societal healing. The people need the theater, and it is more important than ever for every individual, regardless of circumstance, to bear witness. We need to know that we are not alone.

Photo by: Jenny Anderson (IG: @jennyandersonphoto/Twitter: @jennyanina)
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Link to online article 
For: The X Mag and TodayTix.com
Photo: Jenny Anderson
Styled: Jake Sokoloff in Karen Millen
Hair and Makeup: Austin Thornton

1 comment:

  1. Classy. Beautiful. Informative.

    ReplyDelete

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