April 4th, 2012
10:37 AM GMT
Editor’s note: The Millennials are a generation that are constantly plugged in and moving fast to make their mark on the world. CNN’s Quest Means Business is tracking four of them. In this episode, Intern Latin America's David Lloyd comes to London and tests some potential new staffers while trainee actor Michael Burbach gets ready for the working world. In this guest blog, Michael explains why the theatre remains such an important art form.
New York (CNN) – “Ladies and gentlemen, the performance of [title of show] will begin shortly. Please turn off all cell phones and electronic devices. Thank you, and enjoy the show.”
The lights are dimmed, the first few notes from the orchestra are played, and the curtain is raised. I take a big, slow breath as the first moments of a Broadway show begin. Only the stage exists, time dissolves. I’m lost in the Magic of the Theatre.
Oh, wait. No. I’m still on earth. I’m reminded of this by the pinprick of light in my peripheral vision. My eyes unglue themselves from the actors to investigate the star amidst the sea of audience.
The Magic comes to a screeching halt as I realize I am not, in fact, in Oz, or Argentina, or anywhere else my $26.50 student ticket has led me to believe I am. I am in the West 40s in the New York City. And someone is on their cell phone. Texting. In the middle of a Broadway show.
As infuriating as it is, it’s actually not all that hard to believe. Arguments, breakups, makeups, and other confrontations are often dealt with via text these days.
You’re not really in a relationship until it’s FBO (Facebook Official). You can skip commercials on your TiVo and you set up dates on website Plenty of Fish. You don’t even need to speak to a human to buy your tickets to the Broadway show - the automated voice on the line will take care of that for you.
It’s no surprise people find it difficult to keep their cell phones off while Bernadette Peters is singing Sondheim on stage in front of them. They’ll just watch it on YouTube later.
But we are humans. Like Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, we need people. Our grip on reality and communication is changing rapidly. I know the urge for real human connection is within all of us, but it’s so much easier to simply hide behind the screen of white, glowing light. Real talk is starting to become too scary.
This is why theatre is so important. Even with the distraction of someone in the audience on their phone, theatre is real. There’s no digital barrier between the audience and the performers. There’s no a safe wall of shiny plastic to protect you. No fast-forwarding. Theatre forces humanity in front of you in real time, in tangible reality. In an age where that is becoming less common, I can’t think of an art form that is needed more.
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