Is Theater Still Relevant in the Modern Age?

Julie H. Jordan

Recently, I have attended several productions ranging from Spamalot to Into the Woods.  As I am a person who is often curious, and I usually arrive fairly early, I started looking around at the audience.  Except for Into the Woods, which was a high school show, most of the audiences were in the 40-senior range.   So, it begs the question, is theater relevant in a modern world of technology?

First of all, while I think theater audiences are aging somewhat, I still believe that the theatrical experience is unlike any that can be found on Netflix or in a video game.  Theater explores the human experience: the positives and the negatives of our living existence.  Going to a play is a chance for us to take this all in, and hopefully, if we have a willing partner, to discuss it afterward. For years I took both of my children to plays, and it was an opportunity to truly talk with them and learn their insights on many topics.  Both now, as adults, still find value in theatrical productions and attend when they can.

Secondly, we can even look at a Shakespeare play and find connections to anger, love, and hate,  Although we cannot understand how Macbeth can murder the king, we can understand the allure of power and prestige, and, of course, the consequences that arise from greed and moral corruption.  All of these elements still exist in our world today!

Lastly, outside of entertaining us, theater often encourages us to think deeply and, perhaps, question our beliefs.  Reasoning and contemplating other viewpoints is important to our development as tolerant and loving individuals,

So, with a resounding yes, I say that theater is indeed relevant in our modern world!  The keys to promoting an increase in younger attendance lie in us, as parents, to expose our kids to it.  Also, high school and community theater are great ways for kids to get involved in the process firsthand, without costing them too much money.  Theater will continue to be a vibrant reflection of who we are as people for centuries to come.