Over the years, of all the art forms that have made their way into modern culture, theater is one that seems to be experiencing a decline in popularity after a major, lengthy golden-era. But theater is perhaps one of the only arts that have retained, overall, the same principals over the years: pay attention to the setting, characters, emotions, and audience. So, it is of the utmost importance that we preserve theatrical performances and promote live acting so we can remain in touch with the traditions our forefathers embodied into drama and acting.
Theater is a gem in preserving artistic values and art. Not just limited to performing, theater also promotes fine arts where artists are required to prepare entire set stages, props, and costumes to fit the theme of each play. It allows actors to showcase their talent to an eclectic group of people and present themselves in their prime. While it also allows artists making the play come to life to be respected and admired for the hard work they put into making the production a success. Again the art (both performance and fine) allows audience to study the words and phrases used in the script and the painting techniques the artist might have used. This allows the play to be a subject of education that provides us with information about the type of language used by a particular genre a playwright writes and about the type of paint, brush or stroke used by the set-creators.
But in a country like Nepal, the importance of promoting theater exists far beyond artistic value. Nepalese theater also encourages studying about many cultural aspects. Our country and the Nepalese pop-culture incorporate hundreds of cultures and ethnicities that have each manifested themselves as one. Be it from the Newars here in the valley, the Sherpas, or the Tharus. Theater and drama connect these cultures and their respective values to audiences that get the opportunity to learn about what their lives are like where they live. It allows us to learn about ancient traditions and stories that would otherwise have been untold about the heroes and heroines that once lived. It promotes cultural unity and reinstates the value of history in our day-to-day lives.
But, unlike television and the internet, that also help connect us to our past, theater and drama offer a human connection. In the age of technology, seeing someone perform right in front of you is an experience in itself. Just like in live concerts and art exhibitions, when the audience gets to witness all the dimensions of the art, it makes work all-the-more alive. We begin to gain newfound appreciation for what we see. And while movies, shows and recorded music have all been tampered with and “perfected,” the beauty of theater is that once it happens – it happens; there is no editing and mixing to make it look more marketable. What is marketable only depends on the talent of the actor and the show an individual puts on. Artists have to physically practice and strive to be able to create the “perfect shot” in one take. There simply is no “take-two.”
When artists and actors are able to perfect their roles, it allows them to be fully expressive. Looking at an artist up-close allows the audience to feel what the character is saying. They can see their facial expressions change, hear the alterations in their tone of voice and see how colors and stage lights are able to contribute to set the mood. And these various dramas attract a diverse range of audience. From the wealthy to the poor, everyone enjoys entertainment. And drama is something that everyone can enjoy; be it a high-priced production, or a free play set up locally. With theater and drama, everyone can connect, and it truly brings people together.