Storytelling can come in a wide variety of forms. Apart from the common mechanism of telling stories through written words, I’ve taken the time to step outside that realm and really take a look at how narratives are done in other mediums; including movies, television, and even in journalism. However, one that I haven’t touched upon yet- that I find surprising to not have tackled earlier- is how storytelling can go about when performed on a stage for a live audience; complete with costumes, makeup, lighting, blocking, acting, and in the cases of musicals and operas, songs and choreography. Yes. Today, it’s all about storytelling in plays and musical theatre.
Based upon my observations, until about five or six years ago, the world of theatre wasn’t as prevalent then as opposed to now. I don’t know if it was the TV show “Glee” that made it cool again, or if it was because we found our favorite celebrities suddenly being able to carry a tune- as well as a Broadway show for that matter. Either way, storytelling in theatre is an art form that I’ve been aware of and have enjoyed even before this recent cultural shift.
As many theatre nerds may know of, storytelling on a stage has been around way longer than television and movies. It dates back to a time where men played all the roles and the only singing that was heard was from a chorus that ultimately served as the narration. But with time, scripts and storylines have gotten better. Casts have become more inclusive. Sets, costuming and makeup have become more elaborate. Technology behind lighting and sound design has advanced. While one can say that the same goes for TV and movies too, it’s different when you’re dealing with live performance.
Live performance… that’s what makes this realm of storytelling stand out at the end of the day. With TV and movies, you can do as many retakes, edits, and post-production special effects to your heart’s content, for TV shows and movies are all recorded ahead of its release. With plays and musical theatre on the other hand, it’s not like that. Every line, every song, every dance step, every special effect is happening in real time, live before your eyes. It’s a kind of energy that can be seen and felt, and that’s something that is not as easy to summon just from watching heavily edited footage. The fact that such a performance is happening in real time makes it feel all the more real.
This extra element of storytelling is what also makes it much more crucial, for if a mistake is made, whether big or small, technical or from the performance, you can’t edit it out. You can only learn from it and prevent it from happening in future performances. It’s with that that I full-on admire theatre actors and technicians, for everything they do is so precise and to the point.
Plus, above all else, live theatre truly is an entertaining experience. People of the current generation nowadays might not be convinced otherwise, considering it campy and not worth watching at all. Well my argument to that is so can a movie or TV show, and yet people still are more down for seeing those than a live theatre performance. It’s all about finding the right story to lose yourself in- just like one would when picking a movie or TV show to watch. In this case scenario, it’s no different.
Unfortunately, there is a downside to the live theatre experience; and that is the limited number of performances one can go to see it. TV shows and movies can run for however long they want, but that doesn’t fly as well in the theatre world. It takes a lot of energy to put on a production of that scale, and one can do only so many performances for only so long. It especially stings when the story is really good and really captures you. In those instances, you’ll just want to come back to the theater again and again, just to see it. That was the case with me when I saw the touring company of “The Lion King” perform last week. It was my second time ever seeing the show, and I already want to see it again. But it’s not that easy when tickets are pricey and the show will only be in town for a few more weeks.
For me, theatre is something I enjoy attending and- when possible- being involved with. Whether it’s watching a community theater production of “Harvey” or watching a performance by the touring company of “The Lion King,” it’s an experience like no other. That’s actually one of the reasons why I now hold a minor in theatre; to learn more about the making of such an experience- and a storytelling experience might I add. It’s a love that will never die, and rightfully so. After all, if it weren’t for live theatre, then you’d never get videos like this one go viral:
A Moment’s Worth is now available through the following venues: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, iTunes. Please leave a review if you can, for my goal is to get a total of at least 20 reviews on all venues (so far, I’ve gotten 12 reviews so I’m already just past the halfway point to my goal). Check out its Goodreads page, which includes two trivia quizzes for all who’ve completed reading it already.
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