Theatrical: ‘The Approach’ and ‘Happy Days’

I saw a segment on the evening news about both shows last night. I would never have known about them otherwise. Long gone are the days when I used to scour the websites for news of coming productions. Live music and theatre were early victims of the pandemic – and I suspect will be the last sector to be resuscitated whenever the it ends.

This is obviously upsetting for people who make their living from the performing arts – a precarious way of earning a crust at the best of times. I hope that those artists and technicians who are not lucky enough to have partners with more steady jobs that allows them to pursue their artistic dreams, have found an alternative means of earning a living during these times. It must be tough to lose your ability to work at something you love. It’s one of the many sacrifices that the entire country has had to make as we try to navigate out of the Plague.

Some  companies have attempted to stage performances throughout the lockdown. The outdoor, socially distanced production by the Druid Theatre in Galway of the Lady Gregory plays in Coole Park last summer was spectacular.

Watching theatre online tends not to be very appealing unfortunately. Tragically for both the performers and the audience of the online shows there is absolutely no way to replicate the atmosphere of a live show on a screen. The frisson of excitement as you sit in the dark as you wait for the show to begin. The proximity to the actors on stage (I always try to get a front row seat). The electricity in the ether. I knew this before the Plague – having attended live music concerts that have been exhilarating, only to watch them on Youtube the following day and feeling distinctly underwhelmed.

I have watched a few shows online during lockdown – from a sense of trying to support the arts more than any real desire to see the shows. I have stopped doing that recently. The longer the restrictions last the more distant those days of live events seems. Seeing the streaming shows is just a reminder of what’s missing. They will be back one day soon – this year I hope – and I’ll be first in line to buy a ticket.

In the meantime however I have to decide about these upcoming shows. Wouldn’t it be a better experience to wait until I can actually attend in person, as the experience will inevitably be diminished by watching it from a computer screen. Couldn’t I buy several black and white Bette Davis and Joan Crawford films from the 1930s (which I have been watching of late) for the same price as a theatre ticket. I suspect I will buy a ticket for one of these shows, to donate a little money to help the arts. I may not actually watch it though. There’s no rush to make a decision however – after all you can never sell out a streamed show.

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