By Imasha Costa, Arts & Literature Editor
It’s ironic how a few lyrics from one of my favourite musicals define the past year, and how time cannot be measured, especially for those who have been silenced by the shutdown of theatres all across the world (well, except Australia). Rent, an award-winning musical by Jonathan Larson questions how we would measure a year. It’s uncanny how it has been especially difficult to measure the loss of the people and the music that sparked up different parts of the world. Broadway, West-End and other theatres closed their doors almost a year ago. This world has gone quiet – actors; musical directors; stage directors; bands, have lost their jobs, their world, their hobbies.
The pandemic not only has shut down productions temporarily but has also shut down productions for good. The performers did not realise that when their theatre had shut down it was actually closing down for good and the set of the stage would never see the light of day again. Now, theatres have been reduced, have resorted to other ways to try to make an income, to try to still keep functioning. The absence of people, the lighting and the band, allows the deafening silence to thrive behind each theatre’s doors. With all this, will the theatre ever be able to recover? Will it be able to be the same as it was before?
Two hours spent in silence whilst you depart yourself from the world outside. Our reality outside the stage is constantly buzzing with texts and social media, our eyes unable to leave the screens. For two hours, as we witness the undoing of the stage, we drift and live in the reality that we have started to get comfortable in. I would identify the theatre as a place where spectators of our own reality could go in and let the reality of the stage control them. For two hours, we experience all the emotions, fast-forwarded, that we would experience in our lifetime. We witness the same emotions that the characters feel on the stage, the sadness, the happiness, the romance, the pain, the suffering – their reality.
It might be possible that the theatre may never return back to the same way it was before, and we might never experience the same reality that one would experience pre-pandemic. I fear that I might not experience my favourite plays and musicals the way I would have wanted to. Spaces are, unfortunately, being shut down, the lights are dimming, and there is a harrowing silence that I have never felt before, passing through these spaces. It’s silent, yet terrifying.
Theatres have existed since the ancient Greek civilization, where people performed for the largest arenas as they followed Aristotle’s manifesto, which evolved into Shakespearean plays and then into what we have now. This evolved to the modern day manifestation of winning Tony awards and a huge community that loves and supports the theatre as well as each other.
The theatre has begun to disappear; the stage hollow, the chairs empty. The band plays no more, the tapping of heels on the stage is muffled. The sense of security, gone.