posted by Rusty Rueff, A.C.T. Trustee
It was not that long ago that we didn’t even know the term time shifting. Had someone told you that you could do so, you would have thought of time travel and science fiction. And then along came the TIVO Digital Video Recorder (DVR) and all of a sudden we were able to take control of what and when we watched television. There was no more reason to be home on Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. if we wanted to see The West Wing. And then we figured out that watching TV when you could skip through the advertisements was even better than waiting through the commercial breaks. The DVR and time shifting has been a great advancement for managing entertainment. But not all entertainment forms need a DVR. The live theater is one such medium that can’t be captured and shifted, and really why would you want to do so? The live theater is about unique moments that are different from performance to performance. An inflection, an audience reaction, and a delivery of a line all are distinct signatures for each and every performance that are interpreted and filtered through the human experience at that moment.
Recently, Patti and I saw The Quality of Life. This deep and engaging play about the choices of life and love when faced with life-threatening circumstances had both of us emotionally teetering as we sat in the audience and pulled the play through our own current circumstances and feelings. A few days before we saw the show, Patti’s father, my father-in-law, had been diagnosed with kidney cancer and was readying for surgery and treatment. We wept and were enthralled with The Quality of Life, while the other audience members all around us were interpreting the play through their own life circumstances. That night for us will be remembered within our own minds’ DVR with a thankfulness that we were in the theater at that particular moment. Some things just shouldn’t be time shifted. It is us who need to shift our timing to get the most from the experience. There is no better medium than the live theater to time stamp your own unique memory.