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Friday, April 19, 2024

EDITORIAL: The Unmatched Experience of Live Theater


Have you ever attended a play? Felt the thrill⁢ when ⁣the lights dim‍ and ‌the curtain rises? Noticed the hushed whispers as filled with anticipation, everyone leans in to sit a tad bit forward on the velvet draped chairs?⁣ How different is that, I ⁢ask‌ you, to the modern day experience of a⁢ Netflix binge or a clutch​ of YouTube videos?​ Ah,​ there’s⁤ a⁢ disparity for you! The thrill⁢ is gone these days, ⁣my friends,⁤ it’s been⁣ removed by a hundred distractions that pull our attention‌ in every direction but on​ the artistry unfolding right⁤ in front of us.

You may‌ call⁢ it a rant, and I, as​ Brian McCarthy – a ⁤sturdy patron of‌ the‍ arts, a well-known grump, and let’s not forget, a lifelong resident of Schenectady, New York, am inclined to agree with ​you – but when age affords one the‍ perspective‌ of time, these rants begin to grow in ⁢importance. ‍

In‌ the good old days, when to ‌get dressed in extravagant attire ⁣and march with stomachs full⁢ of‌ butterfly-y anticipation to the resplendent Proctor’s ⁢Theater was the driving ambition of ‌a‌ Saturday night, the experience was a⁣ whole different ball ⁣game. Actors strutted under the warm glow ⁤of the stage lights, ‌each rehearsed gesture, every perfectly delivered ⁢line met with excited whispers, ‌rapturous applause, ‍or deafening silence.

There was something deeply⁢ personal about ⁢those instances, an ‍indescribably ​beautiful bond that the audience built with the characters on stage. We laughed⁤ with them,⁤ cried ⁣with them, and⁢ empathized with‌ their dilemmas. They were​ our companions, our guides through different eras ⁣and locales, ‌and ⁣in return, we breathed ​life into their tales with our⁣ gasps, our applause, and the⁣ way we leaned in closer ​to the edge of our seats during the emotional climaxes.⁢

Compare​ that, if⁤ you will, to the⁢ way we watch television shows or ⁣movies ​now –⁤ in​ our pajamas, half-slouched on the couch,‍ with one eye on the screen and​ the other tracking social media updates on our phones.​ Is⁣ it even⁤ a competition? ⁣

TV shows, movies, ​they are all marvelous in their capacity of delivery, but the experience, the sensation is‌ not the same. There‍ is a cold‍ anonymity​ between the characters​ and audience. ‍A distance, a ‌void that the glowing LED ​screens ⁣fail⁤ to resonate with human energy, capturing only the flickering shadow of true performance art.⁢

It’s no wonder then ‍that our youth, with‌ their dwindling attention spans and a dangerously growing ‌dependency on technology for entertainment, are‌ missing out on the profound experience that only a ⁢live performance can provide.

I remember many moons ‍ago; my father had taken me ⁤to watch a production of⁣ ‘Fiddler on the roof’ right here in our beloved Proctor’s Theater ⁤in Schenectady. Tevye, the lead character, was a man so bursting with ‌vitality and charm, it was⁣ impossible not to ⁣become ⁢enamored by ​his journey. When Tevye sang ‘If I ⁤Were A ⁣Rich ⁣Man,’ I ​remember the entire⁣ orchestra lending gravity to ‌his words, the audience soaking in the melody, the rhythm of ‌the ​music pulsating through the ⁣grand old walls of Proctor’s. It was not an‌ actor playing Tevye onstage but Tevye himself, losing ⁣his fortune, gaining wisdom‍ and ultimately learning to balance his beliefs with existential truths.

Each detail, each note, each tear that ⁤glistened‍ on Tevye’s cheek was raw, real. It stirred within me a range of emotions, a cognitive empathy⁤ that the ​blue ​light from my⁤ laptop screen has never managed to invoke. ⁢

I argue that⁢ it’s ⁣time⁢ we return to⁣ the roots. It is up to us,⁣ the adults, the parents, and the teachers, to open the doors for our children to the magical world of theater. There are an⁣ aura and‍ an intimacy ⁤when people gather under a single roof, collectively holding their breath as a story unfolds on stage.​

In the age of technology, ⁤in the⁤ whirl of never-ending information, let us not allow⁤ the archaic art of storytelling to get⁣ buried under the cybernetic noises. Let’s prioritize ⁢and treasure ⁢the sense of community, the exhilarating adventure that only a darkened theater, a lit stage, and a‍ compelling story can offer. ‍After all, ​where ⁣else can you get such ​a bang for your buck?

Driven by nostalgia and a perhaps misdirected grumpiness, I say to ​you that the success of a society ‍can⁣ be gauged by its pursuit of arts. If we lose that race, we lose a fundamental human quality.

So, next ⁢time you grab your remote, think about ‌this. ‌Could‌ there be a more enriching choice? Could the smell of ⁣old books,⁤ the feel ‌of aged velvet, and the thrill of the stage lights ⁤turn⁣ your routine evening into something ‌unforgettable?

Ah,‍ the ⁢experience of live theater ⁢is truly unmatched. No⁢ ifs or buts. Will you argue against it? Or will ⁢you, like ⁤me, take a ‌stand for it

Brian McCarthy
Brian McCarthy
I'm Brian McCarthy! At your service to offer traditionally informed perspective on today's issues. Some call it out of touch; I call it time-honored wisdom.
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