In Defense of Live Theatre (conted)

In Defense of Live Theatre (conted)

Last month a post by Patrick Healy on the Guardian Theatre blog got me thinking again about liveness, as it relates to the theatre, in ways that I had not in nearly a decade, since I first read Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture (1999) by Philip Auslander.  (Here is my earlier post, “To Film or not to Film Live Thee-eh-tah.”)  Around the dawning of Y2K, the theatre felt acutely threatened (overshadowed? challenged?) by ‘new media.’   Many productions I saw around that time felt compelled to use technology on stage, not merely as a behind the scenes tool, but as a part of the visual and aural landscape and as a prop. Film footage, computer lab elements, and cellphones (with actors in character snapping pics on camera phones and texting) quickly became the stage cliches of the new millenium.  One of the few thought provoking (though disturbing and eerie) mediatized productions I saw at the time was Genesi presented by La Societas Rafaello Sanzio and directed by Romeo Castellucci(Act II pictured below from ArtsAlive).

While these experiences by no means left me hungering, instead, for a return to kitchen sink drama, they did leave me wondering what was next for the theatre in the way of authenticity, innovation, and appeal other than the use of multiple media or “mediatized” theatre.

Matt Truman, who also writes for the Guardian Theatre blog, has recently read Auslander’s work and has been pondering the subject of liveness as well.  He first posted on liveness for the Guardian on 10/19, “Is the live theatre experience dying?“.  He ends the piece by offering the following as an  answer to his title question:  “I’m not saying that liveness is dying, but that it desperately needs a re-examination. We need a theatre in which liveness is interrogated, integrated and integral; a theatre that truly values its own liveness and couldn’t exist without it. A Liveness 2.0, if you will.” The comments Trueman’s post elicited also make for an interesting read. His thoughtful post from 11/8 on his personal blog, Carousel of Fantasies, deserves a read, too.

Weigh in, reader. Why do you appreciate “live” theatre?

One Response to “In Defense of Live Theatre (conted)”
  1. James Bradley says:

    Great article. I found this a few weeks back: the episodes on Technology are really relevant to what you’re writing about.

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