Theatre and cinema in Britain.
The theatre has always been very strong in Britain. Its center is, of course, London, where successful plays can sometimes run without a break for many years. But every large town in the country has its theatres. Even small towns often have "repertory" theatres, where different plays are performed for short periods by the same group of professional actors (a repertory company).
It seems that the theatrical play gives the undemonstrative British people a safe opportunity to look behind the mask of accepted social behaviour. The country's most successful and respected playwrights are usually those who explore the darker side of the personality and of personal relationships.
British theatre has such a fine acting tradition that Hollywood is forever raiding its talent for people to star in films. British television does the same thing. Moreover, Broadway, when looking for its next blockbuster musical, pays close attention to London productions. In short, British theatre is much admired. As a consequence, it is something that British actors are proud of. Many of the most well-known television actors, though they might make most of their money in this latter medium, continue to see themselves as first and foremost theatre actors.
In contrast, the cinema in Britain is often regarded as not quite part of "the arts" at all — it is simply entertainment. Partly for this reason, Britain is unique among the large European countries in giving almost no financial help to its film industry.
Therefore, although cinema-going is a regular habit for a much larger number of people than is theatre-going, British film directors often have to go to Hollywood because the resources they need are not available in Britain. As a result, comparatively few films of quality are made in the country. This is not because expertise in film making does not exist. It does. American productions often use studios and technical facilities in Britain. Moreover, some of the films which Britain does manage to make become highly respected around the world. But even these films often make a financial loss.

Last Updated (Friday, 19 February 2010 16:10)