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Movies and TV

by John H. Lienhard, Richard H. Armstrong, Andy Boyd and Roger Kaza

[Lienhard] Okay, guys. We can't quit without saying something about the play's modern cousins — about Movies and TV. Well, and radio. Radio theater was the only theater I knew as a child. I'll bet you didn't know that I listened to Orson Welles' War of the Worlds when it was first aired and it scared the pants off me.

[Armstrong] Well, John, I knew you were a relic; but that was much too long ago. You'd have to have been ...

[Lienhard] ... eight years old when the broadcast began. I had my first gray hairs when it ended. And the first movie I remember was the 1935 Werewolf of London. It made, shall I say, a very big impression on a five-year old. Radio, movies, and TV were game changers and we all knew it. Well, maybe they actually changed the game less than we might think.

[Armstrong] I guess every age creates the theater it needs. Greek theater responded to the need for a large religious festival, and for a democratic audience.

[Lienhard] Right. Every age creates the theater it needs — and deserves. Shakespeare tuned in to the shifting form of the English language � beneath the salt, as we might say � outside the palaces. He drew in and spoke to the masses while he kept the attention of the aristocracy.

[Boyd] So how does that work today? We have movies and TV but what face of you and me do they reflect?

[Armstrong] First off, we're all consumers! Our new media have made theater a product, something to be rapidly mass produced and sold across the world.

[Lienhard] Interesting. So you're linking the texture of theater today with speed, I guess. Our stories ebb and flow far faster than ever before. And yet the stories we tell aren't all that different from the ones we've always told, are they?

[Boyd] ... Human beings loving, killing, cheating, giving, triumphing, ...

[Kaza] Singing their laments, battle hymns, glorias & magnificats ... grief and passion.

[Armstrong] Smiling, smiting, prancing, preening, embracing, ... as well as signaling what's on their minds, though it might not be upon their tongues.

[Lienhard] Well! With that, gentlemen, I'm off to watch the TV show I've been following. Greek theater, Shakespeare — or Star Trek — It all seems to be just old wine in new skins. So, let us draw down our own curtain and bid our gentle audience good morrow.