Sunday 12 July 2015

As You Like It

'All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts'

(Shakespeare, As You Like It)

This stage can be expensive. Firstly just as in all the costs of living a life and meeting basic physiological and safety needs but even more so if we want to attain any of the higher needs which Maslow purports to be motivating factors in our development and our striving to achieve self-actualisation (1943).

In the last month I've been to the theatre three times. Not surprising considering I am living in London. However, the cost to many, including myself can be prohibitive so this is unusual for me. This is how it happened:

1. The Curious incident of The Dog in the Night Time: A matinee on a Thursday = £15 with a partial restricted view but as there were many empty seats we moved to a better more central view.
2. Wicked: Brought a group of 8 young people for £5 each courtesy of Mousetrap, an organization keen to promote the theatre with you people.
3. The Book of Mormon: Turned up at the theatre at 12 midday, wrote my contact details on a slip of paper to enter a draw and at 1230 my name was called and I was able to purchase a pair of £100+ tickets for £20 each and sat in the stalls - row A (and that cost me nil, as my friend got the tickets for my birthday).

The theatre continues to be elitist but such opportunities as those above do offer an inroad as well as free open air theatre at such venues as The Scoop. Does this let 'theatre' off the hook? Does this make it accessible? 

No, because however much theatre provides 'food for thought', if someone is hungry, food is still the most immediate answer. 

Yes, theatre is enjoyable, educational and can shine a light of hope and understanding. Whether it is in teaching us about the mind of someone with Aspergers or giving a new spin to the Wizard of Oz tale and our perceptions of 'good' and 'evil' or questioning religious institutional fundamentalism while getting to know the struggles and triumphs of non-conforming individuals.

Shakespeare's plays are studied by students all over the country on paper and perhaps never seen the way they were meant to be seen, at the theatre. And although theatre prices can be prohibitive, Shakespeare's  Globe has stuck to its promise to bring Shakespeare to the masses by keeping 700 tickets per performance at £5 each. And although they are standing in the Yard, they are how most would have seen the play in Shakespeare's time and they have the best view. So it could be said that the best seats in the house are standing.

If we are, in our time, to play many parts, we may on occasion get to play the part of the theatre-goer, but perhaps the cinema and in its turn the TV and internet have filled that void. Whether we see the story acted out in a play, on the cinema screen,  our TV or tablet, we are learning from the story. We may read the story in a book or graphic novel or hear it round the fire or in a conversation, all we have to do is engage. Our lives - our stories. As Shakespeare said - 'All the world's a stage'.

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