I know that tickets for the hottest Broadway shows touring through town can range from $100-300 and that even a $10 weekly movie night can burn a hole in your pocket when finances are tight. So why splurge on the live factor when the entertainment budget is already so limited?
Let me start by saying that you don't have to commit to spending $300 to see live theatre. Get creative and look for opportunities elsewhere- live performances at local colleges, community centers, even the more affordable professional regional theatres.
If you'll only consider seeing the big budget productions that tour through town, you can easily save up for a discount seat by trading a few of those weekly movie nights to cover the cost to purchase Broadway tickets. While you can always catch the missed movies on Netflix at a later date, the opportunity for seeing live events will come and go quickly- here's why you shouldn't miss out.
Live theatre is a uniquely human experience. Everything you see is happening in real time. Being in the moment with the actors- sharing the same time, same space, same breath- you share in their catharsis.
In a world full of digital and virtual everything, live theatre commands your full attention for the duration of the performance and challenges you to connect with your emotions, humanity, and capacity for empathy in a way that no other medium does. When you leave the theatre, you walk away not only with a unique and lasting memory, but with a sense of vitality and appreciation for the shared human experience.
This shared experience of live art can unify people in ways that little else does. By putting us in touch with our most primal emotions and experiences, the gap between ourselves and others- social, cultural, racial, economic, etc.- narrows. Our capacity to empathize and recognize our commonalities as people increases. We're more likely to seek to understand and collaborate with others, rather than dismiss, judge, or hate.
These might seem like some lofty claims for an art form stereotyped by jazz hands and sequins, but the experience of this unique entertainment medium, regardless of the superficial elements, really is that powerful.
Bill English of San Francisco's SF Playhouse articulates the power of the live theatre experience perfectly…
"Theater is like a gym for empathy. It's where we can go to build up the muscles of compassion, to practice listening and understanding and engaging with people that are not just like ourselves. We practice sitting down, paying attention and learning from other people's actions. We practice caring."
So when we walk out the doors of the theatre, we're not leaving $50-$100 poorer, we're leaving richer in our increased power of understanding, to make our lives and our world a better place.