Wednesday, November 5, 2014


How Do We Keep The Theatre Alive?

URI Theatre I by Sergio Suhett

Gloria Swanson captured by Time-Life Photographer
Eliot Elisofan on October 14, 1960 during the
Roxy Theatre's demolition
Every now and then, some critic or other cultural commentator will observe that the theatre as an art form has died. Such eulogizing has been going on for some time now. Back in 2000, The New York Times’ literary critic Arnold Aronson opined that “it was not all that long ago that the theater played a vital role in the intellectual and cultural life of our society,” unfortunately now “few are claiming that theater is still central to artistic or cultural life.” One can find this kind of article appearing intermittently dating back at least to the 1960s.

The reasons given for the theatre’s supposed demise are diverse. Until the 1980s, the reason was frequently identified as the effect of movies and especially television. Since the 1990s, those reasons have been seen as primarily extremely high production costs combined with the shifting of audience attention toward the virtual world of electronic devices and the internet. Throughout the last half century, however, the question has remained the same: if the American theatre is on its last legs, what can we do to keep it alive?

One of the foremost solutions proposed has been to guide younger people toward an interest in the theatre while still in childhood as a means of helping them to view theatre as something integral to their modern day cultural lives rather than as something from out of the remote past. Arts Alive! Barrington is a local non-profit arts education program that endeavors to do just that, providing, according to their web page, “an opportunity for children and teens to experience the performing arts through their schools and local community.” Groups such as this one may not, by themselves, restore the theatre to its place at the center of our nation’s artistic and cultural life, but they are undoubtedly an excellent place to start.

Wizard of Oz 2010 - Photo Courtesy: Arts Alive! Barrington

To learn more about Arts Alive! Barrington, follow the links below to their website and their Facebook page.



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