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Actor's View: "And, this is better than a movie HOW?!"
by Joshua Nicholson

I recently saw this really funny episode of the Simpson's where Mr. Smithers leaves Mr. Burns for a while to produce and star in a musical about plastic, Barbie-like characters. During the cartoon, we got to see the last bit of one of the songs from the musical. I can't remember the exact words, but I remember it being about "I'd hold you if I could bend my arms", or something to that effect. And, just as the song finished, an irate audience member commented to his wife, "And, this is better than a movie HOW?!"

…heh heh…

Well, aside from making me laugh, that line reminded me of something; there are people in this world who've never been to a live show and know nothing about live theatre (those poor souls!). So, I've decided to write about the similarities and differences between movies and live theatre, and to have a match off to see which one was best overall.

So, let's shake hands, get those teeth-guards in, and get ready to duke it out. This might get bloody!


Theatre-GOOD: Theatre, I believe, is the ultimate form of acting. You get instant results on how well you've performed, rather than waiting months, and sometimes years, before you get any real criticism on how well (or how poorly) you've done. You can feed off of the energy given to you by the audience and make your performance even better.
Theatre-BAD: The instant results could be bad, and you get to hear it all while you're still performing! Plus, you have to be at the top of your game for every performance, even if the show runs for years on end. You also have to memorize every single line your character says throughout the entire show and keep it memorized for however long the show runs, rather than just memorizing a scene for the day.

Movies-GOOD: You don't have to hear bad criticisms right away. By the time you hear the criticism of your movie, you could be on yet another movie set working on your next flick. So, it wouldn't really phase you that much because you're still doing what you love. Plus, you only have to do something well once, and you're done with it (CUT! PRINT! THAT'S A WRAP!), rather than always having to do the same thing just as good many, many consecutive times. You can also mess up, laugh about it, and just film it again, rather than having that mess up just stay where it is and not being able to fix it.
Movies-BAD: It can take years to film a movie, while it takes just a single setting to run a show in live theatre. Plus, when working in movies, you sometimes don't get to see what's going on around you, but you still have to act like you do because it will be added in during editing.

THE WINNER: Theatre-Every crowd is different, so it's a new and different experience every time you perform.


Theatre-GOOD: You get to see special effects right in front of your eyes. And, being live, the stuff is more believable because you're present as it's going on. Plus, these effects only take a few weeks, sometimes days, maybe even hours, to create.
Theatre-BAD: The special effects don't always work, so you demand that the audience uses their imagination even more than they already had to. And, there are limitations to what can be done on stage.

Movies-GOOD: Movie effects have been enhanced so dramatically in the last few years by computers that anything could happen on screen. And, you only have to get it right once.
Movies-BAD: It can take years to actually get all of the special effects of the movie to come around. Plus it loses some of its flair because it's just "in the movies" rather than taking place "in real life", and special effects can make a film millions of dollars more expensive.

THE WINNER: Theatre-Although many movie effects are really nice to look at, they still lack the realism of the effects of live theatre.


Theatre-GOOD: You can actually feel the vibrations from the voice of someone who's really belting out a great song.
Theatre-BAD: The actors can't whisper normally during a quiet moment. They have to whisper loud enough for the person in the back to hear.

Movies-GOOD: Actors get to speak at whatever volume necessary, from the softest whisper to the loudest scream, and you can hear it all. Plus, you could have complete surround sound and hear things coming from all around you, rather than just from in front of you.
Movies-BAD: You don't get to feel the true power of a voice speaking or singing right in front of you.

THE WINNER: Movies-Although it's neat to really feel someone's voice, it's more dramatic to hear a true whisper the way it is normally spoken, and having sounds wiz all around you is just cool!


Theatre-GOOD: No matter how well rehearsed a cast is, every performance is different, and unexpected things could happen. Even if you tape a live performance, it still can't contain the spontaneity of actually being there. It's always a "you had to have been there" sort of thing.
Theatre-BAD: You never get to re-experience those moments in exactly the same way.

Movies-GOOD: Everything is new the first time. And you can re-experience that same moment exactly as you had before. All you have to do is rewind the tape, reel, or DVD, and you're back in business.
Movies-BAD: Everything is new only on the first time. Although you might see something new that you hadn't seen before, it was already there the first time. Nothing is really new anymore.

THE WINNER: Theatre-Theatre will always be in the moment and gains its spontaneity from always being different.


Theatre-GOOD: You can show the people who are doing a poor show how much you don't like it right to their face by walking out.
Theatre-BAD: It's really rude to walk out on a play as it is going on, and most people don't have the uncouth indecency to do it, anyway.

Movies-GOOD: No one really cares if you leave a movie as it is playing. Plus, you can get your money back.
Movies-BAD: You can't show those who made the film what you thought of it right in front of them.

THE WINNER: Movies-It's much easier to walk out on a movie than it is a show. Plus, you won't disturb what the actors as they do their thing on the screen.

Well, in my book, live theatre won over the movies 3 to 2. If you have any comments about my comments, you can just email me at [email protected]. Perhaps you'll sway my way of thinking or, better yet, get a mention in the newsletter…heh heh…




© 2004 Joshua Nicholson, Mr. Jotz Productions. All rights Reserved.