Theater thrives despite streaming

Kamila Vargas-Gonzalez, Contributing Writer

Dozens of video streaming services on people’s devices continue to dominate over other forms of entertainment. But with a community’s passion, live theater is thriving, despite its competitors.

Those involved in theater in Farmers Branch, Texas, share the belief that live performance theater will remain relevant for years to come.

David Moore, executive director of The Firehouse Theatre, sits in an office filled with stacks of paperwork, vibrant flyers and a few scattered props. He describes the most recent changes they have experienced. “After having been closed for 14 months [due to the pandemic] … The audience didn’t all come back at one time,” Moore said. “They dribbled back slowly.”

In recent months, The Firehouse Theatre has had an influx of people attending shows. Moore said: “We did ‘Beauty and The Beast’ last December and had a lot of sold-out houses. And we just finished ‘Spamalot’ in February and had a lot of sold-out houses. Last October seemed to be a turning point because now we’ve had four or five events consistently have good attendance.”

Moore said the popularity of video streaming services has also affected the theater. He said, “We also lost some [audience members who’ll] never come back to live performances because they’ve switched over to Netflix.”

Anthony Nelson, an aspiring actor and a Dallas College student, said people might not be as intrigued with theater compared to video streaming services. “I know a lot of people, they love CGI, they love big blast explosions and all that. But you know, theater doesn’t have that. But if it did, I feel like a lot of [young people] would go to the theater,” Nelson said. “I also know a lot of people who don’t want to go out and visit a theater when they could just sit at home and watch a movie.”

Nelson sits up as he begins expressing his fondness for theater and recalls his experience performing in “We Are Pussy Riot or Everything is PR” by playwright Barbara Hammond at Brookhaven Campus in the Fall 2021 semester. “I really love theater,” Nelson said. “People sitting there watching me act live and not pre-recorded. It’s just very exciting to be seen like that.”

Darise Error, Theatre Brookhaven department chair and theater professor at Brookhaven Campus, said live theater still matters because it fulfills people’s need for connection.

Error said: “When we go to a theater we both connect with the actors/characters and with our fellow audience members. We feel their smiles and laughter, which helps us smile and laugh as well. We feel their tears and sniffs, which helps us to respond authentically according to our emotions as well.”

Error strongly suggested continuing to use other alternatives to watch live performances.​​ “Now, if TV/film is the only way for you to see live performances, then that is better than nothing,” Error said.

The Firehouse Theatre is located at 2535 Valley View Lane.