Music, books, magazines, journals, newspapers, all have an uncertain future with the advent of the latest technologies, but the legitimate theater has nothing to fear.
Music and films can be pirated, copied, reproduced, lent, downloaded, borrowed and probably even more to come. Books and newspapers can, and do, suffer the same fate in our highly technological and reproductive era, and there is not much that can be done to push back these advancing realities. The future is glum for whatever can be reproduced by any means, by anybody, anywhere, anytime.
We should not despair, however, because there is hope. We have the example of the wireless, the radio, which was able to withstand the arrival of television, and to this day it is doing well and even prospering. Not all is lost.
And we have yet another example in the arts: the legitimate theater. Hollywood and the film industry were unable to displace the legitimate theater, plays, dramas, musicals and playwrights, with their flicks, their films. They did make a dent, of course, but only a dent. Movies did not put an end to legitimate theater. True, many original theater halls were turned into movie theaters, and that is why in America we talk of going to the theater, when we mean the movies. The British say the cinema. Now it is colloquially called legitimate theater, a live production performed by actors on the spot, as opposed to films.
The legitimate theater continues to flourish
I have good news: The passion for the stage is very much alive and flourishing, because of its very nature, the legitimate theater lies beyond the clutches of hackers, mass reproducers and cultural buccaneers. Every theater performance is unique. Some players act on the stage for an audience at a certain time, in a certain place, and the rendition of that play cannot be duplicated or reproduced somewhere else in front of the same people by the same actors. Silly as it sounds, this is one of the secrets of the survival of the genre, the oldest and most enduring in the history of literature and entertainment.
The Hispanic world has a long legitimate theater tradition which climaxed in the Golden Age, el siglo de oro, that has never wavered to this very day, where we find playwrights like Quiara Alegría Hudes who won the Pulitzer Prize with Water by the Spoonful, or Miguel Pinero with his fantastic Short Eyes. Eduardo Ivan López gave us Flashback and Spanish Eyes, a few examples that will whet our theatrical appetite.
José Villacís, a novelist and playwright as well as a famous economist and scholar, is set on conquering the American stage with his two new plays: The Soap Seller and The Servant’s Destiny (Lawrence, MA.: Cambridge Brick House, 2012). The former deals with the tragic downfall of Orestes, a soap seller whose business innovation is the means through which he struggles to hold on to his family and work, and even to his very identity. The second play, The Servant’s Destiny centers on three middle-class families, made up of romantic husbands and unsatisfied wives, while the servant lurks in the shadow, at the helm, governing their lives, and who saves the day, and their destiny.
José Villacís explains that he writes for the average American audience, because he is an admirer of Eugene O’Neill, Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller, the great dramatists, and wishes to follow in their wake.
The legitimate theater has nothing to fear from new technologies. It represents the art and craft for the few, not for the masses. It shows the human warmth and touch at its highest, to the full, and for the select chosen. Players and theatergoers convene at the same time, in the same place, in order to be in artistic connivance for the sake of beauty and meaning.