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The Power of Theater

Red seats are displayed while levels of a luxurious theater are displayed behind them

Theatre has been a source of entertainment for humans as far back as the 6th century when the Ancient Greeks began performing plays in outdoor amphitheaters. Even before that, early humans told stories around the fire to share lessons and warn of danger. As a former “theatre kid” myself, I have personally experienced the power of theatre. As a performer, it is a special experience standing on a stage with your peers and bringing a beautiful story to life for an audience. Performing live brings a connection and meaning that cannot be achieved via screen or recording.

Although in the United States we are most familiar with plays, musicals, and opera, there are a number of different kinds of theatre performed around the world. The Japanese have a type of theatre called Noh, in which male actors dressed in rich costumes repeat poetic verses. In Indonesia, they perform Wayang, a kind of intricate puppet theatre. In Nigeria, Yoruba theatre is a kind of folk opera performed with intricate masks and costumes.

Wayang in Indonesia

Three Yoruba Theater performers pose wearing colorful costumes
Yoruba Theater in Nigeria / Credit: Tuck Magazine

World Theatre Day is March 27th. Since COVID-19 has made viewing performances in person impossible, here is a list of plays and musicals that you can watch for free or rent on streaming services:

  • Hamilton, available on Disney+

  • Phantom of the Opera, available on Amazon Prime Video

  • What the Constitution Means to Me, available on Amazon Prime Video

  • American Utopia, available on HBO Max

  • Into the Woods, available on Amazon Prime Video

  • Newsies, available on Disney+

  • Oh, Hello Broadway, available on Netflix

  • Shrek the Musical, available on Netflix

  • Falsettos, available on Broadway HD and Amazon Prime Video

  • She Loves Me, available on Broadway HD and Amazon Prime Video

  • Rent, available on Amazon Prime Video

  • Cats (the stage performance), available on Amazon Prime Video

  • Peter Pan, available on Amazon Prime Video

  • Sweeney Todd, available on Amazon Prime and iTunes

  • The SpongeBob Musical: Live On Stage, available on Amazon Prime Video (Yes, I’m serious. They really did make a musical about SpongeBob)

  • The New One, available on Netflix

  • Shakespeare’s Globe’s Romeo & Juliet, available on YouTube -

  • Shakespeare’s Globe’s Richard II, available on YouTube

  • Trouble in Tahiti, available on YouTube

  • 21 Chump Street, available on YouTube

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