To Film or Not to Film

By: Megan McCasland

Whether or not live theatre should be filmed has been the topic of many discussions in the theatre industry. These conversations have often turned into spirited debates, as everyone has strong opinions on the subject. Personally, I find myself firmly straddling the fence between the “yes, Broadway should be filmed” side and the “no, it absolutely shouldn’t” stance.

If you’re just as unsure as I am, perhaps this pros and cons list will help you decide where you stand on the matter:


PROS of Filming Live Theatre:

  • You get the opportunity to see shows you might not get to see in real life
  • You can enjoy the show years after they have closed
  • More people will get exposed to (and hopefully interested in) live theatre
  • The show would get the chance to make more money if DVDs were sold
  • You don’t have to worry about dodging heads or getting a bad seat
  • BroadwayHD is a great streaming service for live theatre, producing high-quality recordings (and live streams) of shows you might not get to see again
  • You might even be able to find a full recording of your favorite Original Broadway Cast on YouTube


CONS of Filming Live Theatre:

  • People will not want to go see the show live
  • The show will lose money because people will watch it with each other (therefore only one person would be buying the show)
  • You lose that special theatre magic that only comes with watching a show live
  • People become disillusioned if they can see how certain aspects of the show are executed
  • Live theatre is live for a reason; you don’t always see everything happening when it’s being filmed
  • BroadwayHD requires money (that I don’t have)
  • Bootlegs are technically illegal and you get kicked out of the theatre if you’re caught filming the show


…Or maybe you’re like me, and even writing it out didn’t help.

On the one hand, I know that bootlegs are illegal and watching a recording is not as impactful as being in the room where it happens. On the other hand, I know that I will probably never get the opportunity to go see most of the shows I’m dying to see (my calendar and wallet won’t let me), so watching a show online is my next option—and while others might operate on a “one and done” mantra when watching a show, I will definitely still want to see it live after seeing the recording.

What are your thoughts on filming live theatre? Let us know in the comments below!

Picture Source: (Behind-the-scenes of filming Newsies on Broadway)


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