The curtain opens on the silver screen

There is nothing like the anticipation of waiting for curtain up at the theatre. Being there, in the moment with the characters, is an amazing feeling that is certainly difficult to beat.

Over the past few years, screenings of theatre performances, both live and pre-recorded, have been shown at cinemas across the country. It’s now normal to walk into your local cinema and see adverts for the latest theatre productions straight from the West End on a screen near you.

But does seeing a theatre performance at the cinema take anything away from being there?


More and more theatre productions are being brought to to the big screen. Photo: Rudi Riet

Michael Billington, professional theatre critic for The Guardian argues that it doesn’t: “What’s not to like about this revolutionary way of making work available to a larger audience?”

Cinema performances of theatre productions does help to bring in a bigger audience and solves the problem of works being sold out at the actual venue due to famous actors performing.

As it is in their local cinema it encourages those who would not usually buy theatre tickets to give it a try and at a cheaper price. This is a key aspect, as it is gets more young people engaged with the arts and keeps people interested in an underappreciated genre.

Billington even went so far as to say that sometimes cinema showings are better than the real thing: “The National Theatre’s showing of ‘Phedre’ succeeded beyond everyone’s expectations. I even thought the production looked better on the screen than it did on stage.”

This goes to show that in this ever changing world even the oldest traditions must adapt, and although theatre will be with us for a long time this is the next stage, as it were, for getting productions more accessible and to appeal to the masses.

“Few people can get to see [Derek] Jacobi in ‘King Lear’ at the Donmar Theatre, London. But it will be shown on screens up and down the land in early February. The same goes for all the Metropolitan Opera transmissions from New York,” Billington enthused.

This shows that the reach of this new approach has no limits and will enable tens of thousands of people to experience a once in a lifetime spectacle.

It seems that this phenomenon is going to do nothing but grow over the coming years, and many people cannot wait for new performances to be shown in a much more accessible way.

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