Session Notes: How might digital advancements change the identity of theatre?

Name of session
How might digital advancements change the identity of theatre?

Name of person who called the session
Ceriann Williams

Summary of discussion
Ceriann attended the Edinburgh Fringe last year as part of the Total Theatre network and saw a lot of work which was labelled ‘unconventional’ in style. Much of this work was multiplatform and had a digital element and has raised a question about why we see little of these advancements in Wales:

Why do we see little little digital theatre/ multiplatform theatre in Wales?

Is it because we’re too purist?
Is it because digital theatre could threaten traditional roles of designers and playwrights?
Is it because we want to preserve the analogue, the immediate, the live element of theatre? Is it down to general lack of knowledge and expertise?

The positives of digital advancements were described as follows:

• Enhanced aural, visual and sensory storytelling
• Greater access, connectivity, interaction
• Geographically enabling- can reach rural areas, hard to reach audiences
• Huge potential for audience development via social platforms
• More of an audience sharing experience via digital platforms where you can connect, for example, via a Twitter hashtag
• Created a bedroom theatre experience
• Legacy

The barriers were to digital advancement were as follows:

• Lack of knowledge and expertise – are Yellobrick the only established digital theatre storytellers?
• NTW have a Digital Located Residency scheme running with 3 companies, Yellobrick, Lisa Heledd Jones, Swansea Laptop Orchestra and Angela Davies https://www.nationaltheatrewales.org/ntw-projects/digi-located-resi...
• Who are the app makers?
• Add ons versus integrated digital – the former can feel contrived so we always need to ask ourselves why do we want a digital platform? What purpose will it serve? How will it develop audiences? Is it to do with artistic vision, audience development or both?
• The DIY approach is possible but how?
• Who do we know in Wales who can share knowledge?
• How will ACW feel about applications from artists who want to develop digital knowledge and implement into their practice?
• What are the cost implications of digital enhancements?
• It feels like a lot of R&D time would be required for learning and testing and building new collaborations and relationships

Melin Edo spoke in length about a piece of work she was involved with. Mi Minör was the first play of its kind in the world, where a Role Playing Game was played by both online and in-house audiences, integrated into a live performance. The show was live streamed and online audiences could influence the action as much as the in-house audience.

Mi Minör was premiered on December 1st 2012 in Istanbul. It was performed 23 times, to an audience of more than 10,000. Each night was different, was hashtagged, retweeted and evolved online with participants from all over the world. It was a real example of using theatre and social media for social change.

Action

Ceriann and Melin Edo will try to arrange a further discussion group around digital versus analogue theatre and the wider use of social media in theatre.

In attendance

Ceriann Williams
Samuel Jones
Paul Thomas
Lucy Rivers
Melin Edo

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