There is nothing like live performance

The COVID-19 pandemic has put the world upside down. What we were used to and took for granted is now momentarily gone. Simple things like going to the theatre or meeting friends in a park will have to happen inside your home and on a screen.

The audience numbers of theatre goers in Finland have been fluctuating for years. These numbers go up and down and there has been struggles to attract a younger audience. It will be interesting to see if live performances will have a massive boost in audience numbers after this pandemic. Will there be a silver lining from all of this after all?

Many live performers like stand-up comedians or singers have hissed to me how sometimes audiences don’t understand that they are watching a person on stage and not Netflix or TV. To put it frankly if you talk in the audience during a performance the performer will notice it and most likely get agitated. I was always curious if the talkers, hecklers and in general badly behaved audience members only did this due to selfishness or if it is due to us being over exposed to too much variation due to Netflix and other platforms. Incredible creative content is constantly accessible at our fingertips and I wonder if this makes people misunderstand what a live performance is? Especially now with stand up being available on Netflix some audience members assume that that is what they will see for free in a dodgy bar on a Monday night when in fact they will witness a comedian working on their material or trying things or just plain failing. But maybe now due to the lack of live performances this will make people curious and longing for the feeling of seeing something live and even the most ill-behaved will return to their seats humbled by the overconsumption of Netflix during this time of social distancing.  

For me there is nothing like live performance because every performance exists only in the moment it’s performed. It can’t technically be reproduced due to the audience being different and due to circumstances or performers or other reasons varying from one performance to the other. The performance you experience is completely unique and there will be no other like it. It exists and then it’s gone, like all of us on this planet and life itself. Everything is momentary and nothing lasts forever, not this pandemic and not even the best of performances.

After this pandemic when live performances will be at your grasps again: Go and see them and experience them. Go and see different things you usually wouldn’t, go to disgusting open mics and listen to a man in a hat play a guitar for 10min, go and see a strange dance piece and wonder what it all meant and please be in the moment and experience it and don’t fiddle on your phone or think about what to watch on Netflix because what you are experiencing in that moment is something completely unique, so please don’t take that for granted.


Written by Rebecka Vilhonen