Theatre aesthetics in a digital world

Getting straight to the point, why are many theatre sites so appalling to look at? Organisations, like the National Theatre or the Royal Shakespeare Company, have sites that are visually fine (although often too fiddly for the users) and theatre blogs, naturally, span a huge range, but theatre news outlets, like Whatsonstage, Playbill and Broadwayworld, are consistent in their aesthetic: garish, loud, like being screamed at by an old lady while repeatedly hit over the head. If you get past that assault, there is a lot of interesting content, but I still feel I am in the wrong place: normally I wouldn’t be caught dead in a place as naff as that.

Theatre has a crusty reputation. You don’t think youth culture when you think of theatre. Which is ironic because in the current climate, when all arts are about the live experience (cinemas are about special screenings, and music is not about record sales but gigs, even books are about the author events) theatre has a massive advantage: it was here first. But at the same time, it has a hard time selling itself as anything other than a place where pensioners go to snooze. Given that the actual experience is infinitely more vibrant and explosive, maybe the package gives the wrong message. And it’s not that difficult to fix.

P.S. I should point out that theatres are full of pensioners who DON’T snooze, quite the opposite, they are massively engaged. I remember being in Stratford, queuing for tickets for David Tennant’s Hamlet, and hanging around with two american eighteen year old boys and an eighty year old lady. If only I have her stamina and enthusiasm when I get at her age.

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