BroadwayHD, a new streaming service for theatrical performances, went live recently, opening up a host of options for anyone who loves or wants quality theater in their life, but can’t get their eyes and ears on it. The reaction has been mixed, but I’m here to explain why this is the best thing that could happen to theater geeks everywhere.
There are those who argue that, by watching live performances on a small screen, it will diminish the impact of those performance. Horsefeathers! We watch EVERYTHING on phones and tablets theses days and nothing is diminished. Of course, watching in this way won’t have the SAME impact as live theater, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t see it at all. Others might argue that having theatrical performances available to stream to our homes could negatively affect live theater box offices. Poppycock! We watch movies at home all the time and box office sales have never been bigger. People will still go to live events whenever they can, they just want to also be able to see them at their convenience when they can’t.
This is plain and simple a Very Good Thing. Live theater can be prohibitively expensive, especially Broadway-caliber shows, not to mention locally exclusive. BroadwayHD will allow people who can’t get to NYC or can’t afford tickets to experience shows they otherwise couldn’t.This is only the most obvious of a plethora of benefits. Think about a movie, show, or book you love that you want to share with people who’ve never heard of it. The investment to get them to give that a shot ranges from free to under $20. Now consider trying to get your friends to come see something they’re not sure they’ll like with ticket prices comparable to or exceeding those of a live concert. Would you pay $75 for the chance to check out anything just based on your friend’s opinion? Here you have the opportunity to share your love for a show for a low low price.
This benefit extends into education in a HUGE way. Whether or not a school has had its art budget slashed, they still have to teach Language Arts in schools, which involves reading plays. How much better might some students understand great works of literature if they’re able to see them performed in a way that any school budget can accommodate? For anyone studying theater, it opens a up a whole new avenue for them to study the work of great artists who came before. Any student can queue up the work of any actor, director, set designer, choreographer or whatever and learn by seeing their work in a whole new way.
The best benefit of this service is exposure, plain and simple. Exposure to theater, in whatever way, for whatever reason, can create new theater fans, which in return can create new theater. Whether that means getting involved in community theater, going to see more live theater after acquiring a taste for it, or pursuing it in a more professional capacity, everyone deserves the chance to become exposed to an art form that was one of the earliest known forms of entertainment. From the ancient Greek theaters to Shakespeare’s Globe to summer performances in parks, there has always been a place for the common person to enjoy theater. This service allows that tradition to continue and finds a 21st century way to make it work for our lives today. It’s a service I definitely consider worth the cost.