Celebrating Theatre 🎭
As part of my blog going to turn 5 years old in September 2023, I have been celebrating individual authors and actors, but also as part of this, I would like to share an article I’ve written about theatres in general, what is so great about them, their magic and why they are worth saving and attending when we possibly can. I have included at the end, links to plays and musicals I have attended since writing the blog (please note I bought tickets myself and chose to review). I have also included an interview I conducted with an actor. I have also included a list of many theatre plays and musicals I recommend, many also prior to my blog.
Just a small selection of theatre programmes from over the years
“All The World’s A Stage” William Shakespeare – As You Like It
Theatre! It has a long history (but here is a little glimpse of it in brief before moving onto modern day theatre). It can be traced back as far as at least the Greeks in 6th century BC and it spread. In the UK it was, in the earlier centuries, an art form that captured the attention of the churches, so what was shown was quite religious, before evolving to being what was more secular, into what we see today. The Romans also had theatre forms and would use it to great effect. Theatre has survived through many battles, including World Wars. As war happened all around them, scripts were written, songs were composed, dances were choreographed, actors acted and sang and danced as they pulled together to bravely shine a light in the darkest of dark days. Today, we also live through many challenging times, whether personally or more universal troubles and even though theatres had to close, like everywhere at the height of the Covid 19 pandemic, actors, script writers, composers, directors returned in all sorts of inventive ways so, we, the public, amazingly, could still have theatre and now they are back in theatres, in person. Theatre and all who tread the boards within them are there, making life better and richer and creating special moments and everlasting memories.
Theatre today, and back from when it started has plays, musicals, comedians, ballet, modern dance, opera, music (including in days gone by, music hall). As much as I have seen all of these (apart from opera). I am focusing on plays and musicals on the whole and will touch on the others later. Plays and Musicals have Drama, Tragedy, Comedy, Romance, Satire, Crime Fiction, Horror, Sci-Fi, Biopics (and more). They range from pantomime (for my worldwide followers, this has roots in ‘Commedia dell’Arte’ and evolved from there to the wildly fun costumes and the telling of fairytales with some modern lines added here and there and big dollop of wit and audience participation), to comedies to contemporary, to biopics about people you may have heard of and want to increase knowledge about, and more… Each of them will make you feel every possible emotion. The anticipation before curtain up, a line, a look from the actors, the theatre envelopes you from beginning to end and each actor, whoever they are embodying that day, captures your attention and imagination from beginning to end and makes you feel and see everything. It is an experience like no other!
Theatre is for everyone and I think can confidently say that there truly is something for everyone, whatever your gender, background etc is. It doesn’t matter whether you go as a family, or with friends or alone. Theatre has something everyone can relate to, learn from, have questions answered and questions provoked and curiosity piqued.
Theatre, like a good book is also scientifically linked to wellbeing. There have been studies on this and how being in a theatre raises your endorphins. Theatre can be the most amazing experience. It can totally make a day, no matter what you’re feeling, be one of the best experiences of your life. If you’re feeling down or having a hard time, theatre can provide that perfect escape.
Theatre! It has stories to tell. They all have a point and something relevant, whether it is comedy or drama, whether it is entirely original or adapted from a book. There’s always something to learn, something to be inspired by and somewhere to go and escape from the outside world as the actors carry you with them into whatever place and people they are portraying, whether fictional or true-life.
Watching a whole musical or play unfold in either a historical or modern building as opposed to watching a screen is an experience to behold. The connection between the actors and their audience as they bring scripts to life is enthralling, as is something that seems simple, yet is powerful like applauding at the end or whenever else it is appropriate and knowing the actors are appreciating this and sometimes you can be fortunate enough to say to an actor “thank you” and show appreciation in person after a performance.
There are many playwrights, from history and who still has a huge influence over today’s writers for stage and tv is William Shakespeare. He toured with his theatre and if there wasn’t a theatre, he would have his plays outdoors. Sounds familiar to today doesn’t it? There were Groundlings, something The Globe still has today for lesser price than the seats and theatres have many payment tiers, differing from theatre to theatre and country to country. So, even way back in the midst of time, it was recognised theatre should be available to the masses and this has increased as the centuries have moved on.
If there were a day theatre stopped touring, it would be a very sad day indeed and the world would be a poorer place!
Theatre! The arts creates jobs and the skill sets are far and wide reaching. There are the stagehands, the set-builders, those working in wardrobe and props, the box office and rest of front of house staff, the stage door staff, the pr/advertising teams, the lighting and sound technicians, musicians. Of course you also have the writers, the producers and directors, the composers, choreographers, the actors ranging from those principal ones you see on stage to understudies and swing actors etc. Before an audience gets to see any finished production, lots of work goes on behind the scenes, including auditions, read throughs, dress rehearsals, logistics if there is a tour and everything else that I have mentioned and perhaps more… It is all a craft, whether in a company or doing a two-handed or a one-man/woman show etc. Whatever the theatre role, there are skills, perseverance, bravery in these careers.
Theatre! It inspires, whether you do something professionally or not in the arts. I volunteered in a locally to me amateur theatre and previously to that, it inspired me to play the keyboard and to want to play it well, as far back as in my tween and teen years (we scrimped and saved for lessons and then I took part in some concerts). Kids today, whether they end up in the arts or not still attend drama and dance classes. Theatre inspires present and future generations to enter the arts for careers or purely for pleasure or to try something new that may stand them in good stead for whatever they do in the future. There is much to gain and much more to lose when they are not supported enough. They rely on the Department of Media, Culture and Sport and Arts Councils and Arts Funding as well as Us – The Public to support theatres and all within them.
Theatre! What it does, whether it is indoors or outdoors, big or small, in a city or town is worth saving for all the marvellous experiences they give and that’s worth saving and having those stars shining brightly for now and for future generations.
Let us not be the generations who reduced theatres, but instead were the ones who support them and all the wonderful people involved to keep everything and everyone going and to fill our imaginations and memories and enrich our lives.
I thought I would conclude by listing some of the musicals and plays that I recommend you go and see. Some have been touring for a very long time, some come back every so often and some you can actually see just now and others, well, you never know in theatreland, they may just well return some time in the future.
Since starting my blog nearly 5 years ago I have seen and chosen to review a few stage shows. Click on the links to see reviews (in no particular order). Please note, some are from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Those that were online, I watched because it was during the pandemic when people could perform but theatres etc remained closed to the public (and they did a good job in keeping theatre alive), but generally speaking, I mostly go to theatres in-person. Lists and links below are not exhaustive (that could create a whole other blog post in the future). It is, however, a list that comes off the top of my head, without it being as long as say, war and peace.
Links to No Spoiler Theatre Reviews and an interview with an actor
Interview With Actor Ronald Rand
Duet For One * Wodehouse In Wonderland * The Importance of Being Earnest
Art * Humble Boy * Flying High * The Dresser
Quick Reviews of more plays and musicals * The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel *
A Cold Supper Behind Harrods * Ten Times Table * Love In The Wood
The Habit of Art * Love Never Dies * By Jeeves
3 short reviews of some comedians * Once Sinha Lifetime
Banging on About Time and Other Similar Issues
Plays (list of what I’ve seen and enjoyed is not exhaustive)
The Mousetrap * Wodehouse In Wonderland
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel * Wish You Were Dead
Art * Humble Boy * Private Lives * The Dresser.
Flying High * Bedroom Farce The Wipers Times * Ten Times Table
The Mousetrap * Strangers on A Train * And Then There Were None
This House * No Man’s Land * Sleuth * The Play That Goes Wrong
The Greatest Play In The History Of The World * The Birthday Party
Out of Order * A Judgement In Stone * The 39 Steps * Noises Off
Sherlock Holmes and The Final Curtain * The Mystery of Charles Dickens
Being Shakespeare * De Profundus * Tesco On Tuesdays * Duet For One
Twelfth Night * The Merchant of Venice * Julius Caesar
Musicals (list of what I’ve seen and enjoyed is not exhaustive)
Joseph and His Technicolor Dreamcoat * Sunset Boulevard * Phantom of the Opera
Grease * Summer Holiday * Hamilton * Strictly Ballroom
Mamma Mia. * Evita * Starlight Express * Cabaret
Tell Me On A Sunday * Chess * Anything Goes * Mary Poppins
Les Miserables. * Miss Siagon * Aspects of Love * Wicked
Beauty and the Beast * Blood Brothers * Hairspray * Jekyll and Hyde