|At this point, it was still OK to take pictures|
On Sunday, I went to see The Colored Museum by George C. Wolfe at out student theater. Even though it's a little dated, the play is still very good and quite funny. As soon as the audience managed to get over its collective paroxysm of political correctness, it started roaring with laughter.
One thing, however, made a very unpleasant impression on me. The word copyright was mentioned 4 times in the tiny brochure with the information about the show. Then, an audio announcement was made that yet again mentioned the copyright laws.
I understand why nobody should be allowed to take flash photos of the performance. The flashes might distract the actors, and that will be detrimental to the show. Of course, during the Golden Age of Spanish Theater spectators expressed their feelings about the play in any way they wanted. Often, they would throw all kinds of junk (like rotting vegetables) on the stage to show their dislike for the performance. Still, the Golden Age Theater not only managed to survive but will obviously outlive today's theater. We treat our actors and directors as minor deities and get very little of value in return.
Leaving the sorry state of the modern theater aside, however, I still wonder why there are so many injunctions against using any kind of recording equipment during a play. People go to the theater for a certain kind of experience that is not reproducible through any kind of technology. It had never occurred to me to check whether The Colored Museum was available online somewhere before going to see the play at the theater. In the same way, I don't check what's in my refrigerator before going to a restaurant to sample the cuisine of a world famous chef.
What I love about theater (as opposed to the cinema) is that it's a lot less controlled and controlling. You get to see actual human beings surrounded by real objects instead of photo-shopped and airbrushed cyborgs who appear against computer-generated backgrounds. Still, every effort is being made to render theater as dead as the cinema. Be silent, don't whisper, don't move, don't eat, don't drink, don't check your messages, don't take pictures, remember the laws that only allow you to be a silent, unmoving object of an artistic experience. Is it any wonder that more and more people prefer to stay at home and watch TV? With the television, at least, you can scream at the actors, exchange your impressions with others, walk around as much as you want, eat, drink, and blog while you are watching.