For our April post our Public Relations Director, Mike McBurney, discusses some of the cultural impacts of the arts and local theatre.
If there is any year where I feel local theatre can go a bit more unnoticed, 2019 is certainly a strong candidate. Television and movies this year are producing some of the biggest and, one would hope, best stories yet seen – not to mention concluding some of the most followed sagas of the past several years or even decades (hey there, Game of Thrones, Marvel franchise, and Star Wars). Additionally, the continuing saga of well-storied sports franchises and their games that draw huge crowds fill fans with excitement and anticipation, and those tickets can demand higher priority than a lot of other fare. But local theatre offers something that those things desperately lack, which is a sense of intimacy – a closeness between the performers and the audience that, I feel, is an increasing rarity in entertainment today.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be there for a lot of those major cinematic and televised moments – can’t wait for ‘em. I also really enjoy following the Penguins, through ups and downs, but I’m very thankful the ups have been more prevalent the past few years, and I will continue to be excited about every game and the stories of the players. Nothing there will make me have quite the human connection, though, that I have when seeing a show produced by Bricolage – whether seeing a live-action radio show, hearing storytellers weave tales from their personal lives that absolutely enthrall, or being immersed in a world created to have the audience truly be part of the performance. It’s doubtful any of it will make me laugh as hard as I do at an Arcade show – not just because I know and get to perform with some of the folks I’m watching, but because it just feels different and more genuine watching people create comedic magic fifty feet away from you. Quantum, PICT, the Public, Pittsburgh Playwrights, 12 Peers, City Theatre, and so many more are always at the forefront for me in terms of where I want to ensure I spend time because what I take away from those performances isn’t like anything I can get from a movie or television show or sporting event (much as I enjoy those, and I do). Because when I leave those shows I feel like I’ve partaken in something that was a moment shared between myself, the performers, and the other people in that room – and a moment that will never quite be seen the same way again.
Throughline is Staging the Nation this year in Aftershock Theatre and I have an idea of what I’m going to see, but I’m not actually going to know what it is until I’m there – because that’s how live local theatre works. I also know I’m never going to see quite the same show twice, even if I attend multiple nights of each production. Because each performance will be different based on how the performers are experiencing the show that night and what the audience is like and how my day was and whether it’s a quiet night or there’s a traffic jam with horns blaring outside the theatre or maybe one actor looks into another actor’s eyes and finds something there they didn’t see before. Whatever the case, it will be a different story for me to take away. How unbelievably cool is that? Let’s do this Throughline 2019!