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How I See Theater Differently

February 15, 2018 by Alexandra Silber
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Alexandra Silber (Photographed by Jenny Anderson)

“When the storytelling goes bad in society, the result is decadence” — Aristotle

In olden days, as the song goes, theater was the art form of the people. There were no cost barriers keeping people from the theater. It was simply a shared sociological experience.

Theater’s earliest origins extend back to Ancient Greece, where participation in the Festival of Dionysus, a multi-day cultural event, was a requirement of citizenship. Theater was not about celebrities or spectacle; it was about telling stories for the purpose of the public having a cathartic experience together. Aristotle defined it as “the purification of the spirit…by witnessing the playing out of such emotions or ideas onstage.”

Flash-forward several centuries to Renaissance England, where the works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries reigned supreme. While plays were commissioned by and performed at the pleasure of the royals, anyone could enjoy entertainment in the company of kings and queens.

Cut to 20th-century Europe, where Bertolt Brecht, the great German playwright and director, established the Berliner Ensemble and made theater accessible to the people as an essential tool for the recognition of social injustice.

Today, Broadway has become a purview of the elite, with some premium ticket prices skyrocketing to more than $1,000. Theater is, at its essence, a social art form, therefore it cannot be experienced in solitude. If we can’t get people into the theaters then we are not doing our jobs.

But TodayTix is changing the perception of and access to theater, particularly through its rush and lottery tickets. With the app, anyone can buy rush tickets or enter a lottery, and you can even share your entry on Twitter and Facebook to up your chances. Theater is a social art form, and social media is making it even more accessible.

In fractious times like these, theater can be a place of healing. People need the theater, and it is more important than ever for every individual, regardless of circumstance, to bear witness. We need to know that we are not alone.

Pick up a complimentary copy of The X Magazine with your next order of concierge-delivered tickets in New York City, or buy an issue at CultureLivesHere.com.