It is now almost 11 months since theatres closed down. Worse, the whole of the United Kingdom is in lockdown with no clear path through to even the first small step back towards normality.
This might be the perfect opportunity to allow negativity to take over and bemoan our woes rather than making the most of what is readily available, often at no cost. It is far from ideal, but we just have to accept that a visit to the theatre is some way off, quite possibly not feasible until spring or even summer when the majority of the population has had two vaccinations and open-air venues offer the chance to feed our famished minds.
Most of us are naturally conservative and have a tendency to feast on shows that we know we will enjoy. How else can you explain the fact that so many fanatics have seen popular musicals dozens of times despite knowing the plot, the tunes and, eventually, probably every single line? Similarly, those that love more traditional forms of theatre will turn their nose up at anything not written by Shakespeare or, getting a little more modern, perhaps Oscar Wilde or Noël Coward. At the experimental end of the scale, I know of theatregoers who give the impression of being affronted if a production is well-made in the traditional sense or, in particularly extreme cases, has more than a few words of text.
The world is currently our oyster. It is possible to watch top-class theatre from America, Canada, Germany, Australia, Ireland or even our own shores at the click of a mouse. The variety is almost overwhelming. There is Shakespeare aplenty, old and new musicals, revivals of long-forgotten plays by long-forgotten playwrights as well as brand-new productions.
Into this latter category come not only professional offerings featuring stars of the stage who sadly have plenty of free time but also new stagings of plays from recent graduates that have only been written days or even hours before being offered to the public for its delectation. Of course, the quality will vary but the choice is so great that even the most discerning should be able to make delightful new discoveries.
The point is that this is a heaven-sent opportunity to show a little adventure and try out the kind of thing that you would normally ignore.
One of the advantages of watching theatre online is that a viewer can easily recognise a mistake and cut his or her losses. In a theatre, there are two problems that make this more difficult. First, you may well have spent half a week’s pay to secure tickets and secondly, most of us feel pretty bad about shuffling out of a row of rapt devotees, every one of whom is inexplicably enjoying the experience far more than we are.
If you don’t fancy a new style or genre, how about changing the medium? This might be the year to try out some musical soundtracks, opera recordings or possibly a play script, biography or novel with a theatrical theme. The possibilities are endless.
It is a bit late for New Year’s resolutions but my suggestion to every reader is take a little bit of time out over the next week or two and try out something unlikely. If at first you don’t succeed, try again.
By following this route, there is every chance that you will find your life enriched by some completely unexpected delight.