From the Stage to Silver Screen (And why it's not such a bad thing)
By: Natasha Warby
Walking home from class, my flatmate mentioned to me that Miss Saigon’s 25th Anniversary Performance was coming to St Andrews, showing in the cinema for one night only. The news surprised me, and I couldn’t help but feel thrilled. I’ve often missed opportunities to see certain plays and performances, far away as I am in a small seaside town in Scotland, the chance to enjoy the musical from a plush cinema seat, while unusual, was not one I wanted to miss.
However, the more I thought about it, the more I realised that this was not the first time this had happened. Recent years have seen a host of similar events, with theatrical performances slowly creeping into cinemas around the world. The National Theatre’s 2014 performance of Coriolanus, starring Tom Hiddleston, proved to be immensely successful, and is returning to cinemas in Europe this November for several encore shows, due to popular demand.
I can’t deny my excitement at the journey that theatre is taking at the moment. Oftentimes, the theatrical world can feel closed off, and difficult to enjoy, primarily due to the fact that so many shows are restricted to one region. Unless you live near Broadway, or the West End in London, good luck trying to see whatever play is in vogue at that moment (think Harry Potter and the Cursed Child). The opportunities to see a compelling, brilliant performance in person can seem few and far between.
The ways in which theatrical performances are being distributed not only in smaller towns and villages, but also abroad, is opening the world of theatre to a much wider audience. Sure, there’s something to be said about an evening at the theatre. When you’re lucky enough to get a good seat, the atmosphere, and the visceral quality of watching the action unfold before your very eyes is breath-taking. Hearing every little noise, and seeing the minute changes in the actor’s expressions as they take charge of the stage is almost impossible to fully capture on film. But there are those of us who are stuck in the back row, craning our necks just to see the play. And if we want people to see theatre as something that is just not for the metropolitan middle-classes, we need to make it more accessible, not only to those who can afford a seat in the Dress Circle. Roll on the age of cinematic release.