A cursory glance at the plays being performed on and off-Broadway or in stage theatres worldwide reveal a preponderance of certain topics that keep on recurring. Nothing wrong with that if that is what works for most theatregoers. But for theatre to be revitalized and attract viewers who normally don’t go to watch plays, it should also consider occasionally experimenting with topics that may be outside the scope of what they normally tackle.
Take for example alpha males who normally stay glued to TV sports. Many probably think theatre is too cultured, and does not match holding a cold beer while patting their dad bod bellies as the football, cricket or basketball game airs on television. Well, sure, occasionally you’ll see them in the theatre, especially if a hit Broadway show is on. But to catch small experimental plays? They’d probably prefer to have all their teeth pulled out first, even the good ones.
The alpha male is, of course, a creature who is sometimes misunderstood. People may think they are often the subject (a big percentage) of the #MeToo hash tag. Deservedly a fair share of them are guilty, but maybe one approach to change their misguided thinking is to make them a bit more civilized, pointing out that there is more to life that ESPN or Star Sports and keeping score of a different sort. Having more theatre themes and topics that cater to them might be one approach.
Films have fared better in this regard. Every time a film like Saving Private Ryan gets released, the alpha males show up in droves as if to beat their chest in a primitive war chant. Only in this case, it’s the Hollywood box office that gets drummed up.
Fortunately for theatre, there are plays such as A Few Good Men, The Caine Mutiny, Henry V, and others that would occasionally make the caveman drop his remote and leave the beer can in the fridge.
We forget that theatre and the alpha males have a long history. Just go to major military academies like West Point and Annapolis. Theatre is part of their extra-curricular activities, in a long but forgotten tradition of drama and warfare extending even to the time of the Greeks.
Once they are immersed in it, they will also realize that theatre also has a role in creating a mindset of peace, of treating everyone properly and with respect, and even rehabilitating those who suffer from certain illnesses. There is indeed value in Aristotle’s catharsis to release everyone, including alpha males, from problems they’ve bottled up inside.
Maybe that is something theatre ought to consider. To be a source of the alpha males entertainment, without them having to give it too much thought as an alternative to the usual choices.
Dennis Posadas is a Manila-based author, columnist, and playwright. His play about how Admiral George Dewey came to the aid of his defeated Spanish naval foe at a Madrid court martial was recently read off-off-Broadway and the film screenplay version won 1st Place (Historical) at the 2017 Los Angeles Screenplay Contest.
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