When thinking about theatre performances and live football you wouldn’t often put them in the same category. One is an art form known for its many types of storytelling and the other is a much loved sport played outside with usually men kicking a ball around. However, I have often reflected on how similar the two industries can be when looking closely.
Since I was little I have always been a fan of music, song and dance. A culmination of the three led to me and my sisters falling in love with theatre and all the different styles it can bring, leading us all to live fairly creative lives.
I have also grown up with an acknowledgement of football. My dad being a strong Charlton Athletic fan would often have it on at the weekend or go to a game when he dropped us off at our grandparents. My partner also loves the game (he has all the fantasy football things…) and is a ahem suffering Fulham football supporter.
Throughout the years my interest in the game has grown in that I care about how the score pans out but I still don’t know all the player’s names…
Having theatre and football a part of my life always makes me compare between the two and notice the similarities. To start with the structure is the same. They both usually have two halves with a break in between. Even the names of them can get mixed up – it always made me laugh when I worked Front Of House and an audience member would ask when half time is, meaning the interval.
There’s also a certain buzz when you go to either event. You get the excitement of a performance that you may have booked months ago, eager to see your favourite play which is a likeness to the anticipation of going to a home game and hoping that you get your 3 points that you may desperately need.
I’ve also noticed other similarities listed below via Football vs. Theatre:
- Managers vs. Directors – Both vital in helping to lead the team of players or actors.
- Substitutes vs. Understudies – It’s always good to have back up when someone may be sick or injured although unlike football it’s rare for understudies to come on during a performance!
- Crowd vs. Audience – Both as important to the involvement of the game and production, you can’t do it without them.
- Team vs. Ensemble – Sometimes the star player/actors are not the most important role to the success of the final outcome. You can’t have a lead without a strong team supporting you.
Of course there are vast differences between the two which separates them drastically. The money within football is staggering, unlike Neymar in football you wouldn’t find a theatre producer offering £200 million to transfer an actor from one theatre to another! Also the expectations from the paying public is one of the largest differences. When watching a show it is important to be quiet, stay in your seats and focus on the performances of the actors – no phones are allowed and clapping of course is permitted at the right moments. Etiquette within the auditorium is a hot topic in theatreland but that’s a whole other blog!
At a football game the atmosphere is, I would say, the complete opposite. You can shout all you like (even at the tv if you’re like my dad) you can chat to each other during the game, be on your phone and even pop to the loo without much hassle. It's more interactive and can be a fun, raucous ambience compared to the hushed tones of a theatre.
I enjoy the experience of going to both the theatre and football games. Granted I go to a lot more theatre productions (pandemic permitting!) than I would a football game but I still appreciate both experiences. I feel a part of something that everyone gets to share together in the same space and a lot of emotions will be felt (mostly frustration if you’re at Fulham…) that can bring you closer to the strangers around you. Besides I’m not the only one who loves both. Former professional footballer and current sports broadcaster Gary Lineker once motivated football fans to go to the theatre saying “I think it's good to encourage young people to go to the theatre because it’s so exciting to see – it’s like live sport!” I’d agree with you there Gary.
Sadly both football fans and theatre audiences have been stopped from going to support their club or beloved theatre due to the pandemic. However I am confident that when we are allowed fully back, without dreaded social distancing, supporters will be racing back to where they feel most at home whether that’s at a production or a football game. I can’t wait to be there to hear the roar of the crowd and the ovation of the audience when it does finally happen.