8 October 2021

"well try living your own life instead of the lives of others"

Ever been to see a show you enjoyed more than once? More than 5 times? More than 10? What does that number matter. To a person that is comfort. Yet recently online I've seen people who have been getting messages calling them out for returning to see a show multiple times. If anything it's coming from a position of jealousy from the troll messaging in the first place but I wanted to share my own thoughts on this and the joy theatre can bring. 

To people on the outside sure seeing the same show 20 times can be baffling but to anyone who loves theatre you will probably understand why. Theatre is live entertainment and that means escapism. No matter what your problems are on the outside world for a couple of hours in a theatre you can get lost in a story and it's characters and that can give off so many good feelings - often myself days after I've seen something I've enjoyed I've still felt that boost.

Naturally anyone who has seen a show multiple times will probably have faced the age old "but surely it's the same show every time?" question. It's never the same show. Sure the script and the music may be the same but it's LIVE. No two shows are ever the same. Go see a matinee and an evening performance of the same show, I guarantee it'll be slightly different. 

Personally my most seen show is Rocky Horror, I've seen that around 65 times over the years. Every time felt special, every time felt different, every time felt fresh and alive. Why wouldn't I want to return back to something that made me feel so much happiness and freedom from my own thoughts? 
I get a bit of anxiety myself about returning to shows and the thoughts that front of house must judging me like "oh he's back" or whatever - when I know they're not. I also get the whole the cast must think I'm mad or roll their eyes when they see me out there again -  again I bet they're not. I've spoken to performers in the past who have joked "you're keeping us in a job".

Me after my final visit to Half A Sixpence at the Noel Coward Theatre.


On my personal account I've shared all about my own mental health battles over the years and the one thing that has gotten me through is theatre. In the last 5 years two productions literally kept me alive because I could go and be able to be lost and having that boost that I mentioned enabled me to kick myself in to a routine of recovery. Those shows were Half A Sixpence at The Noel Coward Theatre and Amelie which toured and had London runs at The Other Palace and recently at The Criterion Theatre. I know it's overdramatic to say without these shows I don't know where I'd be but truly I know I'm a much stronger person for the joy and reality kick I got from seeing these shows.

You truly can't beat the joyous shared experience in the theatre. Just yesterday I took myself for a return visit to see Hairspray at Curve. It was the signed performance so that is already a wonderful thing to see access patrons enjoying themselves watching a performance. I was also sat a couple of seats away from a gentleman called Alex who had the time of his life watching the show, he was super friendly and chatted to those around him explaining it was his favourite show. He knew the songs word for word and danced his afternoon away. It was great to re-visit the show and enjoy it but seeing that much joy in someone is SO much more memorable.

Tomorrow (as I write this) I'm off to see Frozen with a couple of pals and I already know how wonderful it's going to be seeing kids dressed up in their full Elsa or Anna outfits in what could be their first major West End musical. That first time for me was life changing and led me to this point now where I run my own blog exclusively about theatre. Those kids are the next generation of theatre goers. Would you tell them not to go back to see a show?

There's a line in Amelie delivered by Dufayel where he says "well try living your own life instead of the lives of others" and that feels exactly hitting the nail on the head. If somebody wants to spend their money (and as long as they're financially secure) on something that gives them happiness, joy, comfort or whatever feeling then that's wonderful and should be celebrated not dragged down. 

After everything theatre's nationwide have been through in the past 20 months or so should we really be dragging people down for helping the arts? For helping their own wellbeing? For making themselves happy? No we should NEVER be doing that.

If you've seen a show 20 times and want to go again GO! Don't let anyone tell you how to live your life. It's too short so enjoy yourself. Remember to be kind to each other.

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