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The world of entertainment


Throughout history, man has demanded entertainment. Greek tragedy and comedy were an important feature of ancient soceity, staged in impressive open-air amphitheaters. The troubadour and 'strolling players' of mediaeval times were welcomed in hall and cottage alike, and the shadow and puppet plays of the East, even today, can draw crowds of village spectators. Thus, it has been, and always will be in every country in the world.

'Entertainment' implies non-participation by the audience. A football match may be entertainment to the spectators, but it is sport to the players, and when we think of entertainment, we must exclude, 'activities' such as indoor games, card playing, dice, tenpin bowling, even amateur theatricals, because the point of all these is that we are providing our own amusement. To be 'entertained', we must be content to look, and to listen.

Modern entertainment has become a highly organized business, and in most modern countries, is available in bewildering variety. In a big city every conceivable taste can be met, from cabaret to ballet, from radio and television to the opera and the circus, from the 'straight' theatre to the 'Pop Ground', from the cinema to the variety show, and from the comedian to the symphony concert. And where different races. live side by side, as in Singapore, to these may be added the traditional performances of the Chinese, Indians and Malays.

And what an attractive world this is - especially to young people! There is a glamour and glitter about it all which makes it irresistible. The prominent 'stars', especially, the 'pop' stars, of today become the idols of the adolescents, who imitate their clothes, habits and hair-styles, and dream of becoming famous and wealthy themselves, Generally, this remains a dream, and the humdrum business of ordinary living has to be got on with. But there are examples of talented youngsters being 'spotted' by promoters and turned into famous, wealthy personalities almost overnight, so young people go on dreaming.

Among them, there are a few who, having talent, try to break into the world of entertainment and, of these, a small minority succeeds. The truth is that bitter disappointment awaits the majority of young hopefuls, yet some carry on, and among them are the few who, not only possess talent, but who also have the good luck to be 'spotted'. But even this is not the end of the story. The real problem is not to 'break into' entertainment, but to keep your place in it, and this means not only a good basic training, but also having the originality to produce more and more new material. The television is an insatiable 'gobbler' of scripts as writers find to their cost and no comedian can afford to put over the same jokes twice. The crux of the matter is that some achieve instant success, and to be sure f a sustained, permanent place in the world of entertainment demands a training, whether in the drama or ballet school, or in the music academy, or with a professional script-writing team. There are no short cuts for the professional. For this reason, many professional entertainers are disgusted by the enormous sums paid to relatively untrained 'pop-groups' - but, of course, the majority of these die a swift natural death, their members returning to the humdrum jobs from which they came. Another source of anger to the professional is the inequality of reward, which is related to the popularity of the actor and not to the degree of training and skill which lies behind it. A musician in an orchestra will receive a small, if steady wage; a pop-group guitarist perhaps a hundred times as much; a trained stage actor will be paid far less than a more glamorous, but far less gifted cinema star.

Thinking of the average professional in the world of entertainment, one marvels that he is prepared to go on at all; his conditions are such that nobody without a vocation for entertainment would ever consider his life at all. At times, he will be working, and quite well-paid, but there will be other times when he is 'resting' i.e. out of work, and then he may hardly be able to buy food and shelter. Moreover, when he is in funds, he will be helping his less fortunate colleagues; the theatricals are a generous race. Eventually, age will catch up with him, but, he cannot expect a pension. Those who make a lot of money tend to spend it, and few are able to live in affluence after retirement.

Furthermore, the professional entertainer is exposed to many moral temptations from which most of us are spared, and he has to be of strong fibre, if he (or she) is to be free from the corrupting influence of some of their colleagues.

Beneath the glitter and the glamour lies hardship and heartbreak for the majority. The promoters, the managers and the impresarios are never poor men, and the entertainer becomes pathetically dependent on them -- especially when his public image is fading. But despite all this, we still have the professionals and always shall -- because the world of entertainment has an eternal, irresistible glamour. 'The show must go on !'



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High School English essays 1

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