Coming from a city like Winnipeg where there is such a strong arts community, an iconic theatre like the Vancouver Playhouse slated to close its doors is inconceivable to me. When the story broke last month, I felt a sense of loss I can’t fully explain.
Why is live theatre – or for that matter, any form of the arts – important? What’s the big deal, in the scheme of things, if Vancouver Playhouse closes its doors? The simple answer is reflection and connection. Theatre reflects our individual, personal experiences and connects us to one another because it helps us realize that we are never really alone.
I moved to Vancouver for a job. Faced familiarizing myself with a strange city; starting an entirely new career; and acclimatizing myself to living without the same kind of support system I had when living in Winnipeg, it was culture and the arts that helped make the transition bearable. While at the library one day, in amongst a pamphlet rack displaying information for new residents, I spotted a brochure for the Vancouver Playhouse. I filled out the form and became a season’s ticket holder. When I felt like giving up and moving back to Winnipeg, the play Of Mice and Men reminded me that we all struggle to be understood; to make our way in the world; and to be accepted and valued.
A society that supports a thriving arts community participates in transforming the world into a more beautiful place. Perhaps, in the end, live theatre helps us to understand the incomprehensible, even if just a little. I have now forgotten the reason I allowed the benefits of live theatre to slip out of my life. I only know that the demise of the Vancouver Playhouse has made me realize the importance of my involvement – supporting the arts must be on-going and not just when I feel like it.