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How does Globalisation affect theatre?

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ASSESSMENT: Portfolio of work

TUTOR: Rachel Clements


How does Globalisation affect theatre?

This essay will explain in what way globalisation affects theatre and it will analyse whether theory matters or not when globalisation is taken into account.

In drama there has always been a lot of talk about theory, not actually theory of the theatre but just theory. People use this term in different ways but “what is theory?” If you would look the definition on the dictionary it would say that theory is “a set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.”(What is theory, 1997. what is theory. [online] Available at: <http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/english/farley/gflt/gradfemsite/whatistheory.html> [Accessed 13 January 2011])

 In the history of drama there have been many types of theories. “What it is meant by this?” Well, there have been people who came up with different ways in which theatre could be performed by giving instructions to actors, directors and crew telling them what things they are supposed to perform.  Sometimes theory can be defined as an activity, something you don’t do or something you do. Theory can be thought or studied but this does not really tell people what theory really is. (Alonso de Santos Josè, L., 2009. L’ABC del teatro vol.1: teoria dell’arte teatrale. Rome: Audino.)

Theory has drastically modified the nature of theatrical studies. The way in which people see theatre has changed. People who know theory when they go to theatre they criticise the performance basing their ideas on theory. While people who know nothing about drama just judge the play by saying “I liked it” or “I did not like it”. Some people complain on the fact that there is too much theory in drama nowadays this is because they believe that acting should give people the possibility to express their ideas and not copy someone else’s. (Alonso de Santos Josè, L., 2009. L’ABC del teatro vol.1: teoria dell’arte teatrale. Rome: Audino.)

For some people theory in drama are some names like; Bertolt Brecht, Konstantin Stanislavsky, Antonin Aratud and many others. All of these have their own ideas on how theatre should be performed. (Alonso de Santos Josè, L., 2009. L’ABC del teatro vol.1: teoria dell’arte teatrale. Rome: Audino)

Globalisation is the integration of economic, social, technical and cultural issues of the world’s economies. This has taken place largely due to the expansion of multinational companies and governments advocating freer international trade. Multinationals such as McDonald’s and Nike design and market their products to a world audience. Consumers around the world easily recognize and have similar tastes for their products. In the case of McDonald’s, even the production processes are the same throughout the world; burgers and fries are cooked in exactly the same way irrespective of where the McDonald’s restaurant is located in the world. (Paul, Clark., 2009. Business and Management. New York:Oxford.)

Globalisation is changing theatre everywhere. Writers try to find new opportunities to show their work all over the world; because of this audiences are seeing the stage and the world in a different way.

Musicals are the performances that are mostly affected by globalisation. These have lots of success all over the world. Some of the most famous musicals like Cats, The lion king, Mamma Mia, The phantom of the opera and others have been shown in lots of different countries in the world, in front of million of people in more than 100 productions. The Phantom of the opera, by looking at statistics has gained in all these years a total of five billion US dollars; this could be compared to the income the money that the three most profitable movies of all times have made. (Rebellato, Dan., 2009. Theatre and Globalization. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.)

Musicals cost a lot of money for them to be put on, for example, 1982 Cat’s Broadway production costs were of five million US dollars those of 1994’s Beauty and the Beast were of 12 million US dollars. The musical that have higher outcome to produce the show is the Lion King; his costs are of twenty million US dollars. (Rebellato, Dan., 2009. Theatre and Globalization. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.)

There is something very specific and not usual about the way these shows have spread throughout the world. When you buy the rights of a specific musical, you are not giving it a grade and a script and told to perform it; when you buy a performance you are buying everything such as: costumes, sets, lights, music, posters and merchandise. These means that if for example we take into account the musical Cat’s, all the productions of it would be very similar to each other if not identical. (Rebellato, Dan., 2009. Theatre and Globalization. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.)

These important productions I have listed above called McTheatre. This nickname given to all these musicals links to McDonald’s. These links to the fact I said before about the fast food has expanded all around the world. (Rebellato, Dan., 2009. Theatre and Globalization. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.)

The Lion King is a very good example of a production that is affected by globalisation. As it was stated earlier the musical has an outcome of twenty million US dollars for it to be produced. “How does it get all the money back?” The only thing that helps this production to gain profit is its merchandise.  It can gain a profit by 30% of his outcome this means it gains twenty six million US dollars just in selling its products. (Rebellato, Dan., 2009. Theatre and Globalization. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.)

Global capitalism methods are typical to the McTheatre productions, in same good and bad ways. Cameron Mackintosh a famous British theatrical producer described as being “the most successful, influential and powerful theatrical producer in the world” (quote) began working in theatre around the 1970s. He used to do a regional tour of his work immediately after he produces his show in London. He also wanted for other people in the world to get a fantastic production as his first audience got, he did it by giving them an imitation of the original. This is where McTheatre and McDonalds seem to have a similarity, they both wanted people in the world to have what they created and this is when globalisation comes in. They both also want to guarantee the costumers the best service they could give. (Rebellato, Dan., 2009. Theatre and Globalization. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.)

It should be also pointed out that because of this expansion of the same shows all around the world and making them so similar made theatre loose a bit of its magic. The way of thinking of Mackintosh made so that all these performances would be really similar to one another. Lots of theatres have been built just for these performances to been shown for examples in cities like Las Vegas, Tokyo, Denver, Toronto, Frankfurt, Basle, Hamburg and Stuttgart. Building new buildings could seem like a good thing for the ecology of theatre in the world, but the fact they are constructed specifically for these shows this means there is little consideration of the acoustics, making these new constructions inoperative for other types of performances. These theatres are built with huge seating capacity for example some of these buildings go up to 3000 seats. If it is thought about it is impossible for these theatres to be full. When the productions move all that it is left are empty theatres. (Rebellato, Dan., 2009. Theatre and Globalization. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.)

Globalisation has a huge influence on theatre especially in musicals more than in normal performances this is probably because these types of shows are more popular and entertaining for many people.

Let’s go back to the main discussion of this argument and this is “does theory matter?” Well by looking at the reasons for which some performances are put on stage it is noticeable that all that is wanted is to gain money and people go to watch these shows just because of their name, even if the shows would be awful people would still say they were amazing and by their merchandise. Theory when globalisation come into account doesn’t matter.


Rebellato, Dan., 2009. Theatre and Globalization. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

This book is written by Dan Rebellato who is a playwriter and Lecturer in theatre at Royal Holloway University of London.

This book tells the reader what is Globalization and describes the role of theatre in a globalizing world. He explores the contribution that theatre has made to the evolving of the world. The main argument is how theatre has changed with globalization. The inteded audience for this text could be all the people that are interested in globalization and theatre. The author’s conclusion is that most theatre productions without globalization would fail. The text is very reliable since it is from 2009 and this means that the examples given are quite recent and in one year things can’t have chnaged so much. I found the examples that Mr Rebellato  gives are very useful to make yopu understand what he means. This text was useful for my research because it gave me an understanding of how theatre is manipulated by globalization nowadays. The stregth of this text is that it is really clearly written and it is very understandable. I didn’t really find any limitations because everything was quite interesting and useful for my proect. This text was surely the best I could get for the essay and it helped me a lot in understanding the concept of globalization.

Buse, Peter., 2001. Drama + theory. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

This book was written by Peter Buse who is now a lecturer in English after his studies at Alberta University.

This book gives the reader an idea of what theory is for drama. Peter buse is convinced that theory could make the viewers better understand modern plays. The main argument of the text is how theory makes you understand plays. the intended audience are probably people that go and watch lots of plays. H econcludes that without theory plays can’tbe fully understud. The text was helpful in understanding of theory and why iot is useful and some parts were relevant to my research but most of it was useless. When the author explained what theory is he was clear but when he started linking it to how it helps you understand plays I got quite lost. This text is ten year old but it is still reliable becuse he doesn’t give real life examples.

Nicholson, Helen., 2005. Applied Drama. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Helen Nicholson lectures in Drama and Theatre at Royal Holloway, University of London. She studies the ways in which theatre have been applied to different area and learning contexts. She arguments how theoretical concepts strengthens drama and theatre by examining a range of practices. This text helped me a lot with the essay because it gave me examples of how theory matter to theatre. I don’t think there are many limitations since everything is very clear and well explained. This text was able to make me understand why theory matters in theatre. It is very reliable because the ideas used are backed up by examples.

Paul, Clark., 2009. Business and Management. New York:Oxford.

I wasn’t able to find information on the writer of this book but in any case I though it was really interesting and useful to make me understand what globalisation is. It is a really recent book, published in 2009,so it was reliable. I thought me about globalisation in business and helped me to find McDonalds example.

Friedman, L.Thomas., 2006. The world is flat. London: Penguin.

Thomas Friedman is a journalist for New York times. His book ‘ the world is flat ’ analyzes globalization in the 21st century. This book was great and gives ditailed information of what globalization is and how it is changing the world. He focuses on India and how globalization changed the country.

I found this book really interesting and helpful mi making me understand the term “globalization”. It is a 2006 book and it is very reliable because only 4 years have past and it is really clear and well written. Limitations are that it doesn’t really focus on theatre but as I said before it gives you a clear understanding of what globalization is.

Globalization 101 and Silicon Valley, 2007. Globalisation 101. [online] Available at: < http://www.globalization101.org/What_is_Globalization.html> [Accessed 22 November 2010]

This website describes what globalization is it was useful because it gives you a clear defintion of it. But after I have read “the world is flat” by Thomas Friedman I understud that it wasn’t as reliable as I thought. There is a map of teh silk road that I thought was quite useful to understand Globalization but it wasn’t relevant to the question I as asked to answer! Overall I would say that it is reliable because since it is a website it could be updated and it was created by an institute that works on globalization.

Alonso de Santos Josè, L., 2009. L’ABC del teatro vol.1: teoria dell’arte teatrale. Rome: Audino.

I didn’t manage to find information on the author of the book. All I can say about this book is that it i san Italian book and it explains what theory is in theatre and gave me a good under standing of what it is meant by theory in theatre. This book is quite recent this means it is reliable because if things have changed in the theory of theatre you can surely find them in this book. It was one of the most useful books fot this essay.

DA1148 Performing Theories, Portfolio Assessment, Semester A, 2010

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