It’s been a bit of a break since the last one, I will admit. This year hasn’t been overly frustrating yet, I’m sure you’ll notice here when it does. The film release schedule has been pretty hectic, though. Everything is being released all at once just to make sure they have an Oscar shot. Between now and this time next week you should be getting reviews for Ex Machina, Inherent Vice and Selma. Yup. When it rains, it pours. For now, I want to talk to you about theatre and the sometimes interesting effect modernization can have on the dramatic arts.
I know, I know, that was overly dramatic. Mostly I mean efforts to standardize live-streaming of productions to various cinemas around the country. I saw the National Theatre’s version of Treasure Island the other evening, screened live at my local Curzon. I realise that sounds pretty dry, but it was amazing. The entire show was incredible, and it was good to be able to see it where I wouldn’t usually have the chance to. I’m also glad that theatre has this revenue option open; the Cinema has a different kind of attraction to theatre, and far less assumption of class-bias or cost. Market it correctly (After all, you’re effectively just watching a live-action film, right?) and I’d hope theatres and productions could do well from this kind of venture, particularly when the quality of the production is as high as the National Theatre’s tends to be. That revolving stage is just a marvel for set design and transition without the need for curtains and huge numbers of stage hands.
Obviously, it can’t be all sunshine and roses or I wouldn’t be mentioning it here. I do love the theatre, and this new platform for performance and audience is a fantastic opportunity. Unfortunately, something about it is just…lacking. For me, a large part of theatre is the physical experience. You’re not just seeing something done live, we see that all the time on television, it’s happening with your (Almost) direct participation. The actors are presenting their performance to the audience, to the people in the seats in front of and around them.
Putting it on a screen almost kills some of that peculiar magic. You can hear the audience react to things, set changes and so on, and the film quality is incredibly good. Honestly, that just makes the disconnect even worse. It’s akin to watching a band perform live over the internet rather than actually being there. The magic of participation, of being surrounded by other people all reacting to the same thing you are with the performers physically in front of you and performing to and for you. It’s close. Very close, but just not quite there.
The show was still fantastic, a brilliant performance, don’t misunderstand me, and I’m glad that theatre has found a fresh way of getting their productions to more people over a wider area. But something of the transfer from theatre to film makes me undeniably sad.
Still going to go and see more, though. I do love the theatre.