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Live Theatre - The ever-changing performance

Welcome to The Play’s The Thing, Take 2. I would be overjoyed if, after reading these articles, you decide you are persuaded to go see live theatre whenever you can and take your kids to age-appropriate live theatre whenever possible. You won’t be sorry. We don’t have a lot of opportunities on the island to see theatre, so let’s grab the live performances we do have.

ArtEntertainment
By Joel Adams

Friday 23 November 2018, 04:00PM


Of course, I hope you will come to Theatrix productions, but I don’t just mean our performances, I mean any performance. Watch shows at HeadStart, BISP, UWC, KIS, or wherever they’re being put on whenever you can.

Why watch live theatre? On YouTube, Crash Course Theatre’s host, Mike Rugnetta, said, “Theatre is the art form most like life.” And, when you think about it, it’s really true. You are seeing real people in front of you, performing, in real time, a story that you can relate to and be entertained, inspired, and taught by. And the show you see one evening is not the same as the one the night before or the one the next night. It never is.

I had the great privilege when I was in London recently of seeing Sir Ian McKellen perform Shakespeare’s King Lear at the Duke of York theatre in the West End. My daughter and I were seated just above the stage in a box, not three metres away from the action. From there I was treated to the greatest theatrical performance of my life. The emotions I told you in the last article that I experienced when I watched Romeo and Juliet on TV when I was 10 years old were multiplied many-fold that evening last August.

King Lear is a long and difficult play, but Ian McKellen and his superb cast held the entire audience enthralled for three and a half hours. This is not the first time he has played Lear, but he said in this production he wanted to move away from playing him in the usual highly theatrical way and make him and the other characters speak more conversationally.

The cast succeeded marvelously. They took the time and made the effort to not only say the beautiful, though sometimes hard-to-understand words of Shakespeare, but to make those words understandable and clear to us, the audience, all the while conveying the deepest of emotions in not only Lear himself but the entire cast of highly complex characters.

We were stunned that this 79-year-old superstar had such tremendous energy. It has been said that by the time an actor is mature enough to play Lear, he is too old to do it. Sir Ian proved that saying wrong.

This performance inspired me to spend a good bit of time watching clips of McKellen’s Lear and interviews with him on YouTube when I came home.

During one of these interviews I heard the following:

Jonathan Bate of the University of Warwick said to Sir Ian, “I saw your Lear in preview, even before the press night, and then I saw it again near the end of the run, many, many months later, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a performance that has changed and grown so much and become so much more profound and complete than I did there.”

Sir Ian responded, “Well, as performances go by, you can’t really judge day-by-day how things are changing, but of course it is the great joy of theatre that you’re not stuck; you can advance. In a film, decisions have been made by the editor and the director, and that is the performance.”

In other words, it is finished, not living and changing like live theatre.

In 2014 Jay Greene, Professor of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, conducted a study of 670 students from school years seven through 12, examining the effect on them of seeing live theatre as opposed to reading the plays or watching movies of the same.

The findings revealed that those who went to live theatre attained significantly higher scores than the control group that only read or watched. The research demonstrated that watching live theatre performances increases students’ literary knowledge, tolerance and empathy much more than just reading or watching a screen. So let’s do our part for ourselves and upcoming generations to keep theatre alive.

Latest News Flash! Theatrix will be performing Outta the Box – an evening of comedy and improvisational theatre, at 7:30pm on the evening of Nov. 24 at Shanti Lodge, Chalong.

And coming soon!
• Love Bites – an evening of short plays on love and romance.
• The 39 Steps – a rollicking, frenzied, fast-moving, hilarious take on John Buchan’s novel and Alfred Hitchcock’s movie of the same name.
Stay tuned and don’t miss these!


Joel Adams is building a vibrant theatre community right here in Phuket. You can contact him at theatrixphuket@gmail.com or by phone on 093 6490066. Facebook: Theatrix Group

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