Back in the old days, theatre was an integral part of religious ceremony. Eastern theatre much owes much to India. Sanskrit’s great epic poems such as Ramayana were enacted. The 18th and 19th centuries were witness to cinema at its best. It flourished as the number one choice for entertainment sharing the limelight with opera. In the 20th century with cinema and the Hollywood film industry gaining grounds, theatre gradually started losing its charm. Despite actors unequivocally admitting to theatre being their first love, theatre today appears grossly neglected and all the big names from cinemas are absent from theatre.
Theatre, originally meant to express thoughts and ideas is now at crossroads. All around the world, east and west, it has suffered at the hands of cinema. A colossal number of theatres have had to be shut down and it is saddening to see that once where a 300-400 seat theatre stood, today there stands a beauty salon, or a mall. The loss in terms of culture is irreversible. The truth is that talent goes where the money is, ultimately that’s what it all boils down to. The artists like everybody else have families to provide for, and with theatre in the situation it is now it is not surprising that all artists are running to either television or cinema. It is sad that in these times people would have seen movie remakes of great theatre plays but would have not ever seen the original play. Theatre has directness; it is right in front of you. It makes you feel like you are a part of it. Many will argue that there is no comparison between a great play and a Hollywood movie but the truth is Theatre is more spontaneous. What makes theatre, special is that it does not depend on special effects to woo an audience. Theatre has a live element, a sense of realism.
Theatre will always be there as long as there as enough people with a passion for it. Singular vision and an instinct to perform in public are basis human attributes that are as alive today as they were years ago. Talent is there if only you are willing to look for it, nurture it and encourage it. This century has been witness to the revival to some extent of some theatre groups. Also theatre tickets need to be made affordable so that this art form gets more attention and support from the masses. For any art form to be a success the masses must be a part of it. It would not be incorrect to state that theatre is not a dying form but a form that is struggling to stay alive.
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