Should theatre entertain or educate?What types of theatre are purely for entertainment/education?

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kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As an "educator," I actually think that Theater should, as a rule, entertain first and if it can also be used to educate that's wonderful.  But you have to get people in the seats first.

Playwrights should be able to use a play to get a message across or to act as political commentary, but those purposes are futile if the play isn't entertaining enough to get people to buy tickets.  "The Crucible" has a clear political side to it but it is also a wonderfully entertaining play when produced well.  There are, I'm sure, plenty of examples of plays that educated very effectively but no one was there to see them and no one remembers them.

 

Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Theater must surely entertain. In conjunction, since Aristotle first wrote about the aesthetics of drama in Poetics, theater has been meant to educate on moral and other principles. Ibsen took the education apparent in drama from the level of the universal individual to that social issues. Modern drama takes it full circle back to the individual's personal angst, as in Look Back in Anger. Theater must educate; the lessons of modern theater are getting harder and harder to bear concomitant with the co-function of entertainment.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is often more truth in a moment of theatre than in a moment of life.  The fine arts communicate emotions, thoughts, movements, and more.  Theatre entertains while it educates its audience about humanity.

Regarding the educating of people, Jean-Paul Sartre's one-act play, Huis Clos, (No Exit) was shown in Paris during the Nazi occupation.  Ironically, under the suppression of the Nazis, this Existentialist play sent many an instructional message.

wordprof eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Manichean fallacy, plus this question sidesteps other functions of art -- for example, artistic expression.  A good general rule is "Don't start questions with 'should'".  In this existential world, we do not assume that there are universal rules to follow.  We do things, which are then added to the definition of "human action."  This question is disingenuous, in that there is no definitive answer sought.

e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Musical theatre seems like the most definitively entertainment-oriented type of theatre.

I'm not sure if there is any genre of theatre dedicated solely to education/edification. I can't think of one.

As art, I'd say that theatre ought to "expand the world view" of the audience in some way if it is going to be effective, as art.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

All theater is for entertainment, but I think most theater educates.  Even entertainment is education.  I would say no theater is just for the purposes of education.  Why use the theater form?  You use the theater when you want to both entertain and educate.

kimpdancer | Student

As an "educator," I actually think that Theater should, as a rule, entertain first and if it can also be used to educate that's wonderful.  But you have to get people in the seats first.

Playwrights should be able to use a play to get a message across or to act as political commentary, but those purposes are futile if the play isn't entertaining enough to get people to buy tickets.  "The Crucible" has a clear political side to it but it is also a wonderfully entertaining play when produced well.  There are, I'm sure, plenty of examples of plays that educated very effectively but no one was there to see them and no one remembers them.

 

I completely agree.

tessalynette | Student

Theatre should both entertain AND educate. I am an actress, so i'm always doing both.

Entertain- The actors should be able to pull the audience into their world, and keep them there. Shows like "Seussical the Musical", and "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory", are there to entertain.

Educate- Some shows tell stories of the past, or current, events. Shows like "The Color Purple" are their to educate people about the former lives of slaves. Also, shows like "Children of Eden" are there to educate the audience about the biblical tales.

However, all these shows I mentioned, and many, MANY more, both entertain AND educate. "Wonka" tells of misbehaved children, and how they should behave. "Seussical" tells of bullying, and how Horton over comes that. "The Color Purple" also drentertains through song and dance. And Finally, "Children of Eden" not only tells biblical stories, but the actors draw the audience in with animals, and bright colors, and even lines that make the audience laugh and laugh.

Even contemporary shows educate and entertain.

All shows have a lesson in them, and that lesson is giving through fun, and entertaining ways.

 

loraaa | Student

yes, I think there are types of theater for education and other entertainment.

kinyuagreg | Student

Theater entertains especially the live perfomances should be tailored for the purposes of entertaining and relieving the tired faces from work so that one can laugh and feel relaxed.

Though it can educate theatre should focus first on getting attention by entertaining the masses, then deriving the lessons from the story should follow afterwards.

heyitsemma | Student

i think health and historical plays with a message or a moral are for education, and role plays (ie. comedy's, romances)  are for entertainment.

mjay25 | Student

It's probably always a complex mix of both, but through entertaining, getting some sort of message across and educating. Sometimes instrumental messages are conveyed through aesthetic means, like the use of satire. One example being Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, where he doesn't explicitly educate, he moreso offers a diagnostic stance to the changing Russia, but through his use of satire, he highlights the futility of the Ranevsky's to help themselves to save their own orchard.

Some theatre like Brechtian theatre and his plays are mainly to convey political messages, but then again, some entertainment is used.

There's nearly always some message that can be gleamed from theatre, and different techniques are used to convey meaning. Comedy and satire, empathy and sympathy for certain characters etc