What Is The Difference Between Theatre And Cinema?

Theatre And Cinema

Theater and cinema are two art forms that are often confused, and many people even use them synonymously. But in fact, they are very different but have similar aspects, like acting and theatrics.

You may look into this guide to learn the difference between theater and cinema. Understanding their difference will also help you determine which of these art mediums you will enjoy more.

What is Theater?

The theater is a building or outdoor area for staging dramas, motion picture shows, and other stage entertainments. But in performance art, the theater refers to live performances where actors and actresses will be in front of a large audience.

Theatre performances can use gestures, speech, music, song, and dance to communicate with the audience. In addition, components of art like painted scenery, props, and lighting are used to enhance this performance and grab the audience’s attention. Most familiar examples of the theater include plays, opera, ballet, and musical theater.

Even though most people find cinema more entertaining, many people find theater more interesting. This is because theater involves live action, making them more challenging and grand than cinema. They can change the shots in a film and retake each shot to capture and convey all the subtle emotions. However, this is not possible in theater performances. Here, the actors must use their body language and voice to express their feelings to the audience, making them very challenging.

What is Cinema?

In British English, cinema refers to a building or auditorium used to watch films. In American English, cinema is equal to Movie Theater. Cinema also refers to cinematography and the production process.

Cinemas or movie theaters show movies. They will project a film using a movie projector into a large screen in the auditorium. Unlike theaters, there is no live-action involved in films. This gives films immense possibilities for using effects, stunts, and other technologies. Moreover, films capture all the subtle emotions by taking advantage of close-up shots of the actors.

Main Difference between Theater and Cinema

The theater is the building or area for performing plays and staging many entertainments. In contrast, cinema refers to a building or auditorium where films are shown.

Type of performance

In theater, live performances like plays, opera, ballet, and musicals are shown, while in a cinema, the film will be shown.

live performances


The presentation of the two art mediums is very different. The theater is played out directly in front of the audience, while a cinema is recorded. Moreover, since cinema is pre-recorded, the same piece of art will be shown repeatedly. But, since the theater is live art, the performance can vary and have more scope for improvisation. But theater is limited to what can be shown on a stage. While in cinema, you can use various sets, lighting, angles, and other technologies.

Creative Process

The theater is a more creative process that needs the support and corporation of the entire crew. Everyone will have to work together for the performance to go well. But in the case of cinema, different departments, like actors and music composers, work separately. There is no need for them to interact with each other.

To conclude, we cannot say that one is better than the other. They both have unique charms suited to different audiences’ tastes.

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