Theatre Versus Film/ Stage Versus Screen

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Entertainment is essential to mankind; it is the easiest and quickest way to relax. It is quite obvious that people are different and hence prefer various forms of entertainment but there is no doubt that nowadays music, shows and films are familiar across the board. I recently got into a debate with an upcoming Kenyan actor concerning theatre and film.

First of all they both serve a similar purpose which is to entertain, both tell stories through enactment and in addition to that they both require an audience. Other than that the two are quite different. Our debate however, was centered around his perspective as an upcoming actor trying to make a living.

At one point in our lives I am sure we have been exposed to a theatre like experience. You do not necessarily have to go to a live theatre, there are often plays in school and set books acted out. They are live and there is always a certain connection with the audience. Stage/theatre comes naturally especially to African’s, nobody can deny that we have colorful and vibrant cultures which always chose oral traditions to entertain and teach.

Then there is film which came about in the very early twentieth century and is today the most common form of entertainment. Movies are big business and the market is always in demand for more material. Unlike theatre the performance is not live, it is recorded and there is no direct connect with the audience.

Now put yourself in an actor’s shoes, particularly an upcoming Kenyan actor. Which of the two do you think is most profitable? When I say put yourself in an upcoming Kenyan actors shoes what I mean is that imagine you have a passion for the art but also want to make a living from the same (which is pretty much always the case) There is no employment forthcoming and you crave independence the true way. During my debate with the actor I did not have the same mindset, I was more pro-film. Well with theatre the money is gotten quicker than from on screen productions (highly dependent on the production in charge). As per his experience, on screen productions is more hierarchical and hence profits are not always guaranteed to get to the actors, especially the upcoming actors.


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