The Report Card: Theatre

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor

Entertainment is becoming more and more accessible. With Netflix, torrents, and television shows vying for our attention from the comfort of our couches, we’ve become reluctant to treat ourselves to spectacles. Our money is precious, and we work hard for it—so what will get us the most bang for our buck when we actually do leave the house for entertainment?

Pass: Live shows

Vancouver is bursting at the seams with live entertainment. We live in a city where we can watch a play one evening, attend a sporting event the next, and then go to a concert afterward.

Now, when you hear the words “live entertainment” you often think about the price-heavy opera shows at Queen Elizabeth Theatre, rock concerts at Rogers Arena, or the annual Cirque du Soleil tour in the giant parking lot tent—but there is a whole other side to live entertainment. It might not be as extravagant, but a casual night with passionate entertainers is often a more engaging experience than streaming old episodes of [insert whatever TV show people are binge watching now].

There is a stigma to watching undeveloped acts or rising artists, because it’s unprofessional, they aren’t talented enough, and their equipment is not on par with the pros you see on stages and the big screen. But everyone starts off somewhere and it’s important to develop a culture and a community where we foster those rising—not only those touring.

The same way we go out and watch the Vancouver Giants play hockey at the Pacific Coliseum, we should also attend comedy shows, music performances, school and independently produced plays, and other forms of performance art that have yet to catch the attention of public media. Because every live show is different, you’ll never know what to expect—after all, live entertainment is the real 3-D experience.

Fail: Cinema

There was a time when we were worried that people might stop going to the movies, but movies are still here. Just take a glance at the blockbuster hits, the superhero movies, and the state-of-the-art special effects, and you can see the appeal of the cinema.

Although we’re becoming a bit more selective with the movies we choose to pay money to watch, we’re often left feeling a bit gypped by the corporate experience: expensive popcorns, the endless pre-show commercials, and predictable plots. Hollywood, in my opinion, has gotten a little stale. Unless it’s a really compelling movie, I would rather chat about the performance, set decoration, and cinematography with my fellow movie watchers. Our attention spans for movies are getting thinner and thinner.

Being able to watch movies from tablets and laptops has caused us to evolve from audience members into commentators—and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially if it’s a night out with friends. Of course you should talk, but a movie theatre is not the right place for that type of social engagement.

I believe movies are like books and they are best when you enjoy them in private. No distractions and nobody looking over your shoulder. When you do get a chance to leave the house, it should be a communal commitment where ideas and experiences are shared not only with a screen, but also with each other.

Regardless of the entertainment’s quality, it all comes down to the memories you share with your friends and family when you actually leave the house to watch something new. Live performances are unique, where cinemas, like Hollywood scripts, are becoming repetitive.