Thursday, August 4, 2011

THEATRE: Wherefore Art Thou?

Since theatre's beginning years, and I'm talking back in ancient Greek times, it has gone through many changes. I mean, of course it did. EVERYTHING goes through changes if it stays around long enough. Theatre has seen changes in the way that it is presented, spoken, and acting techiques have changed. Now for a while, the change has been for the good. I mean, if you come out with the same thing for too long, it starts to lose its luster. But recently, the changes that I have seen in theatre have made me quite upset. I mean, when Aristotle came out with The Poetics, he didn't envision this. What is this, you say? Well, let me tell you what I mean.

What I mean is that theatre has gotten away from its artistic beauty and originality. I'm talking about all of the ridiculous musicals that have been coming out within the past decade or two. Now, there are some musicals that have come out that are quite good. Good ORIGINAL music, good ORIGINAL script, and some of them have had popular numbers (as in attendance). But most of the musicals that are on broadway have no originality, in my opinion. I'm not saying that it is theatre's fault. I actually don't blame theatre at all. As we all know, theatre is nothing without the people that make it. So, I guess I am putting all of the blame on the people.

Let's face it. Today's general public is SO obsessed with technology. For the past decade or two, the newest parenting technique is just to take their kid and plop them in front of the nearest television. The children don't need to create their own imagination. Their imagination is handed to them by The Last Airbender and Batman. These kids don't have to create anything in their head. Instead of going outside and creating their own storyplots about cowboys and indians in the great plains, they can just take out their Thor hammers or their Spiderman web shooters and recreate what they saw on T.V. Instead of little girls getting a doll and naming it themselves to accompany them at tea time, they have their Barbie doll or Disney princess doll that all come with their own accessories.

So, when children go out to see a play, they don't want to see the play in which they have to think, they would rather go and see the musical that has classic Green Day songs, or the Spiderman musical, with all of the cool spectacle. I'm sorry. Where is the originality that? What happened to musicals like Oklahoma and South Pacific? Everything about those shows are original and they didn't have to make the actor fly through the air and risk their life. Not only do these crazy shows reflect badly on theatre, but they also reflect negatively on the country itself.

Now, one example of an original show that came out recently is The Drowsy Chaperone. This show is a musical within a play. It has original music, an original plot, and it is EXTREMELY funny. You have the classic style of upbeat music mixed with the modern type dialogue with the main character, known just as The Man in the Chair. Another great example, although the story is based upon a classic opera, is RENT. RENT, which was one of the most popular shows in Broadway history, has original music and the story, although it is from the Opera La Boheme, it has been modernized and made culturally relevant. There are other examples, like The Light in the Piazza and, regrettably, Spring Awakening.

Unfortunately, these shows (with the exception of RENT) are brushed aside by these unoriginal abominations to classic theatre. Such shows like American Idiot, Rock of Ages, Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, Jersey Boys, Legally Blonde, and others are making me sick. With American Idiot, the only reason why people are going to see this show is because the music is from a very popular rock album by Green Day. They even went as far as making Billy Joe Armstrong, the lead singer of Green Day, the lead in the show on Broadway for a period of time. That's not a musical. IT'S A GREEN DAY CONCERT! With the Spiderman blunder, people are only going to see it because they have want to see Spiderman come flying over the audience. We already have a show like this. It's called CIRQUE DU SOLEIL! Legally Blonde: a movie made into a musical? Jersey Boys: they are only going to see it because it is Frankie Vallie songs. Are you getting my point? People don't want to see a show with originality because they don't already know what it is about! Why see a show in which they have to actually pay attention to what is going on when they can go see a show in which they already know what is going to happen? It sucks to hear it, but it's true.

What I am trying to say is in order to save theatre, people need to start writing shows that have originality. In fact, people need to start WRITING PLAYS! Now, you may be saying to yourself, "Well, why don't YOU do something about it?" Well, as an actor, I kind of have to suck it up and deal with it. I can try to write my own plays, but I don't think I have the skill to do that. I can pretty much only act. I can also direct. But in order for me to make a living in this business, I have to just take what I can get. If I get cast in one of these shows, which would be an INCREDIBLE opportunity for me, I would just do what the directors and producers tell me to do. Although you may think that I am just a big pushover for doing so, that is what makes a good actor. If more actors just listened to their superiors, then they would get more job opportunities.

If you want to know more about The Real Mike Barry, then just follow me on my twitter.

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