Why are people scared to go to the theatre?

Sydney Dedeaux

  • OnStage College Columnist

As a university student about to hit the high road, there are many things that I still do not understand in this world – and that are in fact pretty scary. It makes me wonder if students who have not been exposed to the same things I have are facing the same fear when it comes down to the arts. As I watch new students go to a live performance (maybe for the first time), what stands out most, is the uncomfortable, furrowed eyebrows, the crunching of playbills, the looking to see what others are doing so they don’t stick out.  

The bottom line is there are many people on my campus who are afraid to enjoy the arts. I don’t mean they don’t enjoy them at all but they don’t go to a play or a musical because they are afraid of what their peers will think of them.

I’ve always wondered why there seemed to be a little bit of a stigma towards enjoying the arts, especially from those who play on a sports team. And it seems to be mainly in the male demographic from what I’ve gathered. More men friends and acquaintances are going to and enjoying live performances. It very well may be that Disney creating “The Lion King” was the segue many needed to test out theater.  This is starting to wane a little due to more of an understanding of what theatre and the theatrical world are but there is still a bit of fear that goes with going into a theatre. But the main question is why?

This question really doesn’t have one direct answer as there are multiple reasons to why there are those who are afraid to attend an event. But I believe that the real underlying issue is a lack of understanding and the creation of genuine interest.

Shakespeare was not meant to be read. It’s boring on paper. This can go for any other play. The reading of plays in English and having to sit through an analysis of a play in high school can sometimes give the impression that theatre itself is actually boring and it can’t be exciting if the words are long and monotonous. However, that’s where going to a play or musical is different. The world on that page is being brought to life and is so much more than what was written. It’s like a very blank book. You have the dialogue but setting, clothing, and characters can be created by directors and designers, giving the text a more solid form.

I believe that bridging this gap can pull more people into enjoying the arts and theatre itself. Sadly there will always be those who will not look at the theatre world through different lenses but all that can be done is try to expose them to what this world has to offer and welcome those who come with open arms and an amazing performance.