The performing arts get with the times…big time and more so all the time
For many years now, the performing arts community has been doing a lot of hand-wringing. What will “save” live theatre, opera, classical music and dance in an iEra? Are they doomed to dwindle, finally becoming only a memory in a completely digitized age?
Well, first of all, the reports of their deaths have been greatly exaggerated. The performing arts are nothing is not adaptable, and adapting they are. (More on a major trend here in a moment.) And as a younger generation of performers takes over the reins, younger audiences are beginning to return to live performance.
Case in point: The phenomenal success of the hip-hop musical “Hamilton,” sold out on Broadway for the foreseeable future and about, for heaven’s sake, one of our Founding Fathers. Shades of “1776!”
Nonetheless, it’s true that the competition for people’s time and attention remains fierce. Also, how to fight the “elitist” aura still clinging to these events? What if you can’t afford a $200 (or more) theatre ticket?
The old saying, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” turns out to be appropriate here. One of the biggest trends in bringing in bigger and wider audiences to “live” performance is live streaming. No, you don’t get the real roar of the greasepaint and smell of the crowd, but having attended both the Benedict Cumberbatch “Hamlet” and the David Suchet “The Importance of Being Earnest” at the East Ridge 18, I’m here to tell you that it’s still pretty darn cool.
The camera becomes your eyes as people in the London theatres settle into their seats, rustling programs and cramming sweets into their mouths. There are even “intervals” (intermissions to us) for dashing out to a bathroom break. I can’t get to London to see either of those productions, but I had a chance to see them in East Ridge. Go figure.
(Note: Because of the time difference, only UK audiences actually saw these performances live. But it’s still a totally different experience than seeing a taped version of a play.)
It’s not just plays—opera, many forms of dance, symphonic music—all are diving into this new concept with a vengeance and why not? Not only do vastly more people get to see their performances, but these tickets ($20 for “Hamlet,” $15 for “Earnest,” are bringing much-needed clams into the arts bucket.
So, if you haven’t yet discovered your resource for this, it’s carmike.com, then click on “Events and the Arts” on the left-hand side of the page. Scroll down to see what’s playing on what days. Be aware that not all events are in all theaters, so you will need to click on the event and see if it’s playing here.
Most of the time, it will be either at the East Ridge 18, the Majestic downtown, or sometimes both. You’ll have to be able to go when it’s playing—like live performance, once it’s gone, it’s gone. Check often, because what I’ve discovered is the list changes quite often—you could miss a personal favorite.
Here are some of the upcoming choices:
Dec. 2, 6:30 p.m.: An encore of the live stream of The Met’s “Lulu.” This is actually a repeat of the performance that did stream live, but if you couldn’t make the first date, it’s still a wonderful chance to see a classic opera by a world-class company.
Dec. 3, 8 p.m.: Rifftrax Live: “Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny.” You know you are out there, “Mystery 3000” geeks. Start celebrating the hols with a hearty yuck or two.
Dec. 4 (time not yet announced): “American Saturday Night: Live from the Grand Old Opry.” Even the Opry is getting on board this train, and an excellent journey it should be.
Dec. 5, 12:55 p.m.: The Lincoln Center: “Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.” Repeat on Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. Lush, lovely, unforgettable.
Never count out the native ingenuity of those dedicated to live performance. That quicksilver adaptability has saved their bacon for several thousand years.
Live shows will still be around when the iPhone seems as outdated as the Victrola.