Apr 4, 2011

Long Live the Live

Stefany Anne Golberg has a thoughtful piece on the death of live performance:
It’s never been easy to argue for the value of live performance. How much do you pay for an experience, for something completely intangible: human interaction? A magic trick is not a can of peas. A pirouette is not a product. A performance is just a person, creating an experience for other people, making them laugh, making them gasp, annoying them, delighting them. If the performance no longer brings us pleasure, it will not have a paying audience. Without an audience, live performers cannot, do not, exist.
And though I agree with the substance of Goldberg's subsuquent argument, I'm not sure how persuasive it is as a defense of value:
It might be hard for us to decide whether a video game is more valuable than a clown. But you will get a definitive answer if you ask a clown. For no one is more entertained by a performance than the performer.
In a related post, Matt Freeman links to Howard Sherman's defense of theater, which resonates pretty with me:
But I do believe that in its simplicity, its foundation in the human connection of people telling, of people enacting stories for other groups of people, live and alive, theatre will go on precisely because we cannot be reduced to a series of zeroes and ones, packed for sale at the local warehouse superstore, or streamed into homes. The very things that make theatre hard to sustain are what insures its survival.

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