I’m standing and applauding with a room full of strangers. In front of us, the cast of A Midsummer Night’s Dream finishes their curtain call and erupts into a final dance. I remain on my feet, spellbound, along with the rest of the captivated audience. We clap to the beat of the music and enjoy this moment; the actors and audience acknowledging one another, each thanking their partners for engaging in the story that has just been brought to life through both party’s participation.
There’s something magical, enriching and life-affirming in this kind of coming together of strangers and there’s no better opportunity to do so than the theatre.
But the experience passes us by every time we decide to go see the most recent blockbuster instead of a play.
There are over 20 theatre companies in the Ottawa region and student discounts are readily available. There’s no excuse to not go. In fact, here are three reasons you should consider going to the theatre instead of the movies.
1 – Theatre is interactive
Going to a movie involves staring at a screen for approximately two hours. That’s just not the same as staring deeply into the eyes of an actor – a living, breathing human – who’s right in front of you. They see you, acknowledge you, and respond to your reactions.
Let’s not forget the fun of dressing up for a fancy night on the town with friends. “Going to the theatre is a social activity,” says Tim Oberholzer, an Ottawa-based actor and theatre practitioner says. “ It’s as much about going to a show as it is about going out for a drink and to see your friends and to talk about the show at intermission and afterwards.”
2 – Theatre helps you think outside the box.
If you don’t usually go to the theatre, maybe it’s worth a try if only to make you think in a different way. “If you want to move your life forward, you have to bombard yourself with new things all the time,” says Kevin Orr, associate professor and interim chair of the theatre department at the University of Ottawa.
Why not make one of these new things a play? “Even if you hate it, you might have opened ideas that are going to give you your next best idea for your restaurant,” says Orr.
3 – There’s a show out there for everyone.
Say “theatre” and some words that spring to mind might be “stuffy,” “boring,” or “Shakespeare.”
“Don’t get me wrong, Shakespeare’s works are masterpieces,” said Ottawa-based actor Kelsie Bennett. “But there is just so much more out there.”
The point is there’s a lot of theatre that you might not even realize is happening and it’s a far cry from the bard you read in school.
The trick is to consider what genre or topic you might be interested in and what your tastes are. “If you’re a music fanatic, go see a musical,” Bennett suggests. “You won’t be disappointed.”
And even if you do go see a traditional play, you might be delighted by the fresh twist on the old classic, as I was when I went to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
So the next time you find yourself staring at the movie listings and feeling unenthusiastic about what’s out right now, maybe you should consider upping your cultural ante by visiting the theatre instead.