The End of Each Year Brings a Time of Reflection

The end of each year brings a time of reflection. How was our year, what did we accomplish, where did we fail, and what can we change to better ourselves and our place in the world? We look back not just at the recent past, but also at the totality of our history. In the same way, we can ponder the nature of theatre.

All of mankind’s progress is the culmination of previous actions and prior knowledge. On occasion there are quantum leaps and new discoveries, but even those are based upon information that came before, clues left by earlier trailblazers.

So while we would have no problem recognizing a wheel from prehistoric times, it’s an arduous task to connect that prehistoric wheel to the functionality of a wheel inside of a modern mechanical clock. The fire of the Neanderthal can, in logical progression, be taken to the modern light bulb. However, the number of steps in between are so numerous and diverse that the similarities almost seem coincidental.

Yet, there is no doubt that the theatre we see today has a direct connection to the first known public theatres in ancient Greece. It could easily be argued that, aside from the technical aspects, Socrates transported through time to a modern play would probably have no problem comprehending that he was attending some dramatic presentation and grasping what was being said. Is there any other human experience besides the most fundamental of primal needs that can make the same claim?

Turn it the other way, and if a modern man were transported to an ancient Athenian amphitheater, the only barrier to comprehension would be the language. And as theatre is as much a visual experience as a communication of words, we could and would get it.

The very nature of theatre has not changed. Every show is both a contemporary comment and a grand vista of human history. The intentions of theatre have not changed, nor has the basic structure changed. Yes, there are differences, but the principals are the same. For more than 3,000 years we as a species have found drama an effective method of self-examination.

What has changed is the accessibility. Whereas in ancient Athens thousands went to see a few plays, in the modern world we have literally thousands of plays seen by a few. In Athens, the amphitheater sat 17,000, while the average house in Los Angeles is around 99 seats.

How then is all this relevant to a year-end reflection? We should reflect upon and celebrate the diversity of our theatrical community. On any given evening, we have a plethora of theatre opportunities. We should rejoice in the knowledge that we are seeing this most profound of traditions being carried to new audiences and new generations. We at FootLights are proud of what we’ve done this year to help you find these opportunities.

After all, not all shows are created equal, and the benefit for us the audience is that we can pick and choose from the bounty of opportunity. Each production is a mirror reflecting values and concerns of its audience. FootLights strives to help you find the shows that will encourage your enthusiasm.

Play descriptions, date information, and access to websites are all fundamentally important questions. On our website,, you’ll find many of these answers. Just as importantly, we’ve found a way to help you find shows by location. If you want to find a show in Santa Monica, we’ve got a place for you to find them – Downtown – no problem. We’ve even got info on shows in San Francisco.

We’ve also added an opportunity for you to voice your thoughts, vote on a show and very shortly we’ll be offering information on independent reviews. You can find what’s opening soon, what closing soon and a page for raves, essentially, an “agora” of theatre.

We are proud that we have had a hand in making theatre a more informed, friendly experience. It’s the gift we want to share with you; celebrating the gifts that theatre gives us daily.

Happy Holidays!

The FootLights staff and family.


About Peter Finlayson

Peter Finlayson is the Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-chief of FootLights magazine and While working on a prelaw program at the University of Michigan, he happily got involved with the theatre program. Much to his mother’s chagrin, law school never happened, but in a career spanning more than 4 decades, Peter has performed, directed or designed more than 150 productions. In his spare time, he is working on a new play. You can follow him on Twitter @Thtrdog .

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