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The Theater, Culture, and Memes

Updated on October 4, 2016

An image from Theater Emory's production of Boys from Syracuse

Student Actors performing on a beautiful stage
Student Actors performing on a beautiful stage | Source

The Theater

Theater has been a part of human culture for over three thousand years. Arising most fervently in the Ancient Greek and Indian cultures, the performing arts have long been a part of our cultural identity. In fact, the theater was first used as a means to unite citizens, causing distinct feelings among a vast group of people, and allowing them to find solidarity in their participation as an audience.

Today, the theater is being taken over by film and alternative forms of media that allow for replay-value, or repeated experience, which is where live performance once thrived. The ability to relive the experience, to share it with others to be discussed and commented upon, is an aspect which has gained momentum with the rising transition to social media. Unfortunately, then, for thespians, the art of live performance is neglected.

2016 Arts GDP
2016 Arts GDP | Source

Unfortunately for prospective artists, the figure above includes all fields under "The Arts" which includes the growing media industry. Live theaters, which did boast a considerable percentage of the figures above, continue to be out-shined by the growing forms of quicker, more efficient forms of communication.

Memes, for one, are a source of growing media. The ability to encapsulate a moment of shared cultural experience is rare in itself, and in a good meme, can be showcased within seconds. References to pop-culture, "90's kids", and other fads have come and gone, but the solidarity and interest that they created rivals the experiences of live performance.

Even a quick google search of memes will find you faced with the "Top 100 most popular memes" or meme lists that "Won our Hearts". The quick and easy disbursement of popular culture has allowed for an entire internet market that will soon see itself capitalized upon. In many ways, meme pages already make a fair profit from their viewership, and as desire for these cultural phenomenon grow, a meme market cannot be too far behind.

Pewdiepie, Youtube Star Earnings

Youtube is another source of growing media that has taken away from live performance. Stars such as Pewdiepie, whose earnings are pictured above, can gross in the hundreds of thousands and millions in sponsorship and ads. This alternative form of advertisement is one of the reasons why live performance has seen a decline. In the vastly monetized world, money talks. And without the ability to draw advertisers and sponsorship of their own, small theater and performance groups have no hope of ever reaching such heights.

Hopefully this is something we will see the performing arts arise from, stronger than ever. But it does not seem to be the case. I feel their best hope is to adapt with the changing ways and times, and see what a more digitized theater could be.

The outlook for live Theater

Do you think live Theater will see a decline? Or can it overcome the obstacles it currently faces?

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