Thursday, March 10, 2011: Halfway to the Theatre

Active, smart, curious, social ... but will they ever attend an opera?

Is theatre going to disappear?

For the elder generation a visit to the theatre is still considered to be a significant part of life, a special event, and an evening out.

But for the young generation the theatre is a relic of the past. So what are the reasons, and is it possible to attract their attention back to classical forms of art?

Tatyana Pak, a business student from Kazakhstan, interviewed some students and professors at Tiffin University, Prague.

Here’s what she found out:

Opus Osm: Have you ever been to the theatre?
Student M.T: Yes.
O.O: When was the last time you were there?
M.T: Ten years ago.
O.O: Why haven’t you been to the theatre for such a long time?
M.T: Didn’t have time.
O.O: What clothes do you wear to see a play?
M.T: Formal.
O.O: Why is it important to visit such places as the theatre, opera, and ballet?
M.T: Because this is classical art.
O.O: Would you go to the theatre if you had more time?
M.T: Yes, I would.

Opus Osm: When was the last time you were at the theatre?
A.B: Five years ago.
O.O: Why haven’t you been to the theatre since then?
A.B: Didn’t have an opportunity, special reason to go.
O.O: Is it interesting for you?
A.B: Yes, from time to time.
O.O: What clothes do you wear to go there?
A.B: Official, probably a long dress.
O.O: Is it important? Why?
A.B: Yes, of course, this is etiquette.

O.O: Why do you think young people are not visiting theatre?
A.B: Because now people have the internet and other media.
O.O: Do your parents like the theatre?
A.B: Yes.

O.O: Have you ever been to the theatre?
K.M: Yes, I was.
O.O: Which one?
K.M: Narodní Divadlo (The National Theatre).
O.O: What did you wear?
K.M: Black suit and a tie.
O.O: How do you think people need to dress up to go to the theatre?
K.M: I think this is the place where you need to look formal.

O.O: Have you ever been to the theatre?
M.D: No.
O.O: Why?
M.D: I have no time; but if I had I would.
O.O: What would you wear if you went to the theatre?
M.D: Black dress, dress shoes because it is a tradition to be classy and conservative.

O.O: Have you been to the theatre?
Mr. H. (professor): Thousands of times.
O.O: When was the last time?
Mr. H: During Christmas.
O.O: What did you wear?
Mr. H: Conservative suit, tie, jacket.
O.O: Is it important to dress like this? Why?
Mr. H: Of course, we go there to touch the original art, which is enrichment. We have respect for art, so we express this with conservative dress.
O.O: Why do people need to visit the theatre?
Mr. H: To see original art, touch it. This cannot be substituted with the internet or TV.

O.O: When was the last time you went to the theatre?
Mr. N. (professor): About two years ago.
O.O: Do you like going there?
Mr. N: Yes, this is a special event, an evening out. Also Czech theatre is highly advanced.
O.O: Why do you think young people are not interested in that?
Mr. N: This has to do a lot with the internet, computer games, and other technologies which replaced it.
O.O: Is it possible to attract a young audience to theatres, opera, and concerts? How?
Mr. E: Create some scripts and plays that are relevant to the young audience, found a company approaching students, offer discounts and field trips. Actually my son is in the theatre at the moment. He got some free tickets from work.
O.O: Would he go there if he didn’t get them?
Mr. N: Probably not.
O.O: Why not?
Mr. N: The price for the ticket is quite expensive, especially now when all the prices went up, for some people going to the theatre is not affordable.

These few interviews give a general picture of how people perceive the theatre. The younger generation perceives it as an entertainment for “old people.” The main reason is technological progress. The internet, tv, and computers have become an integral part of everyday life, and they can’t live without them.

But even though they don’t visit theatres, they know what kind of clothes they would wear. This means that they understand that theatre is part of the classics and they have respect for it. Respect is half way to success in attracting youth to the theatre.

The next step is to increase their interest. This can be done with special programs such as those suggested by the professors. If each of us contributes even a small effort, the tradition of visiting the theatre can be revived. Everything is up to us. oo

Photo Credits: Students in a 2010 marketing class,Tiffin University, Prague; photo illustrations,

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