The Theatre In 21st Century; How It Has Changed

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The theatre has really changed in the 21st century. Below are some of the notable changes in the theatre industry. The changes are mainly geared to making it more attractive to the target audience especially the young people. The changes have affected turnout at the theatres in both positive and negative ways as discussed below.

What has changed in the theatres in the 21st century

Audience/actor relationship

In modern theatres, as the audience you watch the actors speak and address each other. Previously, the actors mainly addressed the audience. They could easily relate with the audience but this is not the case anymore. In addition, the seating arrangement is very different in the theatres today. Expensive seats are right in front while cheap seats are either very far from the stage or around balconies. Previously, cheap ticket holders would be seated right in front on the ground or standing on the stage but in front, while expensive seats were built on a higher platform.

Art and entertainment

Previously, any play or screening in the theatres would serve the purpose of showcasing art and also as a form of entertainment but nowadays there is a distinct difference depending on the play, the time it is screened and the audience

Digital age challenges

Well, through social media and basically the internet, people can access such plays or any play as compared to latter times. This is actually a big challenge to the theatre industry and unless measures are taken to attract more people back to the theatres, this can adversely affect the industry. It is for this reason that you find so many changes in the theatre industry all geared up to attracting more people to the theatre and the focus is mainly on the young people. On a positive note, the modern theatres have enhanced features such as microphones, music and sound effects.

Audience participation

This is very common in our theatres today. Previously, audience participation was kept at minimal levels, but the theatres have realized that in order to get more audience and encourage this trend, the audience has to be involved. That is why you find such incorporation of the audience through social –networking forums, interviews and competitions. A good example is the Lush Valley.

Live performances versus recorded performances

In modern times, if you miss a play or musical performance, in the theatre, you can easily catch up on the recorded version. In fact, even musical concerts can easily be recorded and the same can be accessed easily even on social media. In fact, this has contributed to the low turnout to the theatres.

Multifaceted cultural theatres

Basically, the idea is to ensure that the theatre space is flexible to fit any form of art presentation. This is one of the strategies that most theatres have adopted in order to attract more people to visit theatres. Research shows that renovations have been carried out in all major theatres giving them a modern touch and appeal. Battersea Arts Centre has adopted this feature and can change seating arrangement to fit up to 800 people at once of less depending on the performance and expected to turn out.

Theatre design and technological changes on stage and performance

Lighting and sound effects have actually changed the experience of audiences in theatres. Use of high-tech recording and projection equipment has made it possible for the production of better plays and improved the general performance of actors as well. Basically, collaborations are also made easier because communication networks have also been improved by advanced technology. In fact, the musical performances in the theatres have benefitted a lot from technological developments as well. Theatres that have embraced technology and come up with modern theatres have noticed an increase in the audiences and profit margin too. Spectacular theatres such as the Raj Mandir of India, Shakespeare Globe Theatre are some of those cinemas that have adopted technology and have really renovated the theatres in order to give their audiences a good experience.

Too much Rehearsal and performance

In modern theatres, the actors’ plays are in prose and they have to rehearse and practiced for a long period before they go live. This kills spontaneity that was very common in previous plays in older times. Again, the same set of actors worked together hence it was easier to get along and come up with a play that shows creativity and one where all the actors showed good relationships, unlike today when creativity and spontaneity are no longer possible because the producer directs the play depending on his understanding of the theme.

Representational production design

Everything starting with the scenery, costumes lighting, and even sounds are designed by artists. Basically, the environment of the play is created, unlike earlier times when everything was more natural. Most of the times the plays were done during the day and this means the natural light was used. To signify night, they may be used torches or lanterns. As such the audience imagination and involvement to the flow of the play was captured. Live music bands and artists were used as opposed to soundtracks and sound effects in today’s theatres. Basically, the theatres were presentational then and these days, they have become representational with everything being represented.

The future predictions of trends in theatres

Well, it is true that technology has really affected theatres in terms of audience attendance and also changes in the overall appearance of the live performances in order to attract more audiences but will there be changes in the 21st-century trends in the cinema industry? Well, experts project the following changes in future

  • Need for community and people interactions will lead more people to the theatres.
  • The increase in smaller theatres located in all parts of the country to attract more people to the theatres.
  • Younger directors and actors will ensure more performances in the smaller theatres and the main focus will be on issues, news, and concerns of the immediate community.


Well, since theatre is supposed to be the mirror of society and nature in general, according to Shakespeare, we expect even more fascinating changes to come. Theatre industry stakeholders are aware of this, and are looking for more ways to ensure that your experience at the theatre is top-notch and that you are attracted back to the theatres on a regular basis.