The Magic of the Theatre

I just watched the hilarious and brilliant one-man play, Monkey Nuts, at UKZN’s Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. It’s performed by genius actor Matthew Ribnick, written by Geraldine Naidoo — yes, the same duo that brought us The Chilli Boy and Hoot, another two comedic plays that have a take on the lives of South Africans living in our new, free society.

Once again, Ribnick proved his theatrical brilliance in performing over 20 distinct characters, each with their own accents and idiosyncrasies. His acting has now been accentuated by his fun takes on singing and dancing; put together, it was a rip-roaring theatrical experience.

And this made me realise: the theatre is a magical place. To echo my Drama teacher’s words before we performed in the opening night of What the Dickens? last week, what happens on stage is magical; it’s something that may never again happen. In films and adverts, actors can do multiple takes to get the perfect shot. In theatre, there is only one shot, and the audience is watching your every move, unlike in film shooting, where the audience has yet to see what you’re to present.

But with the rise of home entertainment and social media, the question I’m finding that’s floating through my mind often is whether the time for the theatre is up. And I strongly feel that it certainly is not. The theatre is here to stay; it’s what instigated the desire for people to be entertained; to be elevated from the mundaneness of their lives and transformed into a world of intrigue and wonder.

Sure, films and YouTube are great; I’m a huge fan of both. That’s the entertainment of the 21st century. But the thing is that the theatre is still the centre of magic in the entertainment field. Hardly does a person feel that particular sense of excitement before the curtains rise to reveal the stage beyond it, when seated before the screen flashes to life in a cinema. The theatre has within it a sense of charm that no other house of art can emulate or mimic.

And that’s why I will always relish the opportunity to go and watch a play. Because of the rarity of this art form. And I feel that more people should also discover the theatre – especially the younger generations. The support of art is an integral part of our society; in fact, in Ancient Greece, it was compulsory for citizens to attend plays put on by the titans of the dramatic texts — the likes of Sophocles and Euripides.

So go out and watch a play. Be inspired. Laugh. Enjoy every minute of being within the theatre. Because this form of art is unique; what you see on stage will never again occur.

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