“As Exciting as a Movie”: How Does Streaming Change Theatre?

Katie Hawthorne | 6 March 2017

It turns out that finding a precise definition for theatre is deceptively tricky. For some theorists, theatre depends upon the live presence of an audience to witness an event. For others, it’s the live presence of a performer to tell a story. Some researchers and theatre makers hold that it’s the one-off, physical, fleeting nature of a performance which sets it apart from other art forms. For example, in 1993, performance scholar Peggy Phelan argued: Performance’s only life is in the present. Performance cannot be saved, recorded, documented […]: once it does so, it becomes something other than performance” (146).

Each of these definitions relies upon an idea of liveness – the idea of a live audience and a live performer, sharing physical space and time. Cultural theorists like Phillip Auslander have grappled with what it means to be live – don’t worry, this won’t get morbid – and in 1999, he argued that we have only understood live art since we’ve had a mediated alternative, the not live, and explained that “the defining fact of the recorded is the absence of the live.” (2)

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What is Postdramatic Theatre, and How Do I Sit Through Six Hours of It?

28 November 2016 ¦ Katie Hawthorne

The short answer is this: Postdramatic theatre can be lengthy, noisy and complicated, and it goes out of its way to challenge an audience. You will need snacks.

A slightly longer answer should start with “post-”. This year, we’ve seen ominous new terms coined to describe our political landscape: post-truth, post-Brexit and post-Trump have become a part of every-day speech, each pointing towards an uncertain future and a time of unpredicted turbulence. It’s strange, because the “post-“prefix usually signifies critical reflection. In academic terms, at least, we use it to denote that a concept has been updated (e.g. post-modern) or to offer a position of perspective on complicated periods of history (e.g. post-colonial) – but this new kind of “post-” seems to suggest that we are still in the thing, rather than beyond it.

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