One of the marvelous things about the world of the theater is that some of the plays which we see give people a message. From human rights to the many dangers of love, playwrights have always strove to speak the truth onstage. In this current culture, where artists like Lady Gaga and various human service organizations attempting to speak to the youth (and others) of today in ways that make them feel accepted and loved, I thought it might be nice to explore how theater has tried to speak up for the people of today.
For one thing, theater has always tried to be in touch with the times of America and the world. Anyone who doesn’t believe this, just watch the documentary Broadway: The American Musical. Whether it’s the zeitgeist of today or the Small Town America of yesteryear, the one thing that theater has tried to do to stay relevant throughout the years is to adapt to the changing times by producing works that are relevant and engaging to the people of a particular time. With the resurgence of Broadway entering the mainstream through shows like Glee, today’s hip youth centered musicals and plays like Rent and The Normal Heart, Broadway is as much a part of today’s culture as Irving Berlin and The Ziegfeld Follies were of the 1910s and 20’s. You may disagree with the message that some of these shows provide, but the point that I’m trying to make here is that Broadway and theater have always tried to speak to the people and the culture of each time in ways that are consistently in tune with that time period.
Today, the world’s information is available to us 24 hours, 7 days a week through devices like the IPad, IPhone, and various social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook and even video-sharing sites like YouTube. So where does theater fit into all of this? Well, to start, almost every major play running on Broadway and every local theater here in New Hampshire has a webpage and many of these productions have Facebook and Twitter pages too. You can receive up to the minute information on just about anything right on your phone or tablet. You can watch clips of your favorite shows and songs through YouTube.
In conclusion, theater like many things in the world is a continually changing medium. Whether you agree or disagree with the message that it tries to speak, one thing remains very clear: like it or hate it, the theater will always try to speak to people of every with a message which is in tune with the times.