Entertainment is an action, event or activity that aims to amuse and interest an audience. It is the audience that turns a private recreation or leisure activity into entertainment. The audience may have a passive role, as in the case of persons watching a play, opera, television show or film; or the audience role may be active, as in the case of games. Entertainment can be public or private, involving formal, scripted performance, as in the case of theatre or concerts; or unscripted and spontaneous, as in the case of children's games. Most forms of entertainment have persisted over many centuries, evolving as a result of changes in culture, technology and fashion. Films and video games, for example, although they use newer media, continue to tell stories, present drama and play music. Festivals devoted to music, film or dance allow audiences to be entertained over a number of consecutive days.
Some activities that once were considered entertaining, particularly public punishments, have been removed from the public arena. Other activities, such as fencing or archery, once necessary skills for some, have become serious sports and even professions for the participants, at the same time developing into entertainment with wider appeal for bigger audiences. What is entertainment for one group or individual may be regarded as work by another.
Entertainment often provides fun, enjoyment and laughter. In certain circumstances or contexts, there is an additional serious purpose. This may be the case in the various forms of celebration, religious festival or satire for example. Hence, there is the possibility that what appears as entertainment may also be a means of achieving insight or intellectual growth. The appeal of entertainment, along with its capacity to cross over different media and its potential for creative remix, has ensured the continuity and longevity of many recognisable forms, themes, images and structures.