After hearing about the recent research and development that will be going into the role of the internet within theatre, I came to wonder to what extent the internet can be involved.

 

Is there scope for back-story to be developed through social media sites, ie. characterised twitter pages (thus proving an elaborate online version of a programme that can simultaneously solidify the idea of character and setting to both the potential audience, and the actors)?

Is the presence of a piece online enough to generate more interest?  Take Waking Exploits, and their 'Serious Money' performance; they seemed to really hit the marketing on this community site specifically, with online features such as rehearsal videos available for all users to see.

 

However, these ideas don't challenge the form of theatre itself.  So, after some quickly (badly) done research; I stumbled across Better Left Unsaid [betterleftunsaid.tv], a New York-based performance that broadcast live online from the theatre.  Now, we've had a few of these 'broadcast' performances in Cardiff over the last few years in the cinemas, but how does the idea of internet streaming contrast with this?

 

One, you should be able to charge a nominal fee on entry to the allocated site, and from there have access to the live stream.  It's like paying to go to the theatre, but with an endless possibility of viewers, and unending audience interaction before, during and after - via social media sites.

 

Now, with this, my only conundrum is that it may not be defined as theatre.  If it is a regular performance, with an audience inside a theatre - but with extra cameras there, that the actors are told to ignore; then in my view it would be 'theatre'.

However, allow televisual influence on the performance (ie. close-ups, direct camera interaction from the actors), and it becomes a live internet television project.

 

And, for a hybrid, and final quick ponder - what if you were to remove the audience entirely, and perform - saying for pure hypothesis (not that I have a solid idea already or anything!) - on a site-specific location, in a complete and utter realist style of performance?

 

What do you have?  Internet Drama?

Has it been done before?  I don't know.
Would it work?  I'm going to find out. 

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Comment by Tom Beardshaw on July 27, 2011 at 15:20

Transmedia is a term that's gaining traction through the launch of the PGA's official credit - and I think that's going to propel the term into mainstream use. As an idea, what it's trying to point to is the telling of stories across platforms, without a central one. Most multiplatform productions seem to be coming from one central (traditional) media platform - be it TV, Film, Theatre etc. This is often more adaptation than true transmedia, which often has a storyworld at it's centre, and then tells the stories across different platforms, using the particular genius of each platform to inform the crafting of that storys telling on that platform. It's a picky point, but there's a ferocious debate about it across the atlantic as big studios look to extend their IP. 

 

At NTW, there have been digital platforms used in and around several performances in an experimental way. In the Beach, Outdoors, Love steals us from loneliness and of course the passion, where there was a lot of multimedia adaptation, and a little bit of transmedia too.

Comment by Julian Sykes on July 26, 2011 at 9:08

@Chris Thanks for the response, there have also been a number of pieces where you create a band from various people (instruments) live streaming together to create a piece. So a 'jam' as such could be bringing people thousands of miles away. 

 

@Kelly, Matt and Chris. A bit of a mouthful but I prefer it to transmedia. I guess it depends on your viewpoint of what theatre is? and if at it's core it is storytelling. If the answer is yes, then why not call it storytelling? if however it is more than that then I am not sure if transmedia works for that either. For me transmedia seems to be a name that has been created that isnt really needed. People for thousands of years (Cave walls, cow hides, voice, painting, knots etc) have been using different medium's to tell the same story. 

Comment by Matt Ball on July 26, 2011 at 8:57
Kelly & Chris - transmedia? assuming that the performance won't take place in one medium...
Comment by Christopher Cale on July 25, 2011 at 20:35

Julian:  I think we got our wires crossed on the 'gig is a gig' thing; I merely meant that publicising an event to a wider audience does not alter the format and style of the production itself.  However, changing the conventions of the theatre itself does change the format and style; and therefore I'm just researching/exploring the idea of what it would produce.

 

Matt:  Thank you very much for the examples for me to ponder over - I'll give it all a look when I'm not quite so obviously writing this out whilst on shift at work.  The joys of a quiet night behind the bar!

 

Kelly:  Thanks for joining in the discussion - if I'd known I'd get so many comments, I would have started this off in the forum.. Oh well!  I titled the blog 'Internet in Performance', as I know that it is something NTW have said they will explore, and it gave me an idea to 1) develop my own experimental work, and 2) Do a bit more additional research into what people thought would happen with such a 'tampering' of theatre's conventions.  I definitely agree that Multi-Modal Performance would be a good term to use for any finished product, but I wanted something vague yet eye-catching to provoke conversation just for now. 

Comment by Kelly Page on July 25, 2011 at 17:43

Interesting title ... "The Internet in Performance" ... ever thought of it as "Performance in/through the Internet" ... or "Multi-modal Performance" ... does this change the thinking a little :-) ...

 

We coexist with technology in everyday life, as such it is only natural in/with/through performance to coexist with Internet technologies .... performance is performance, mediated or not ... albeit what might change is the production of it and/or the cast, crew and audiences experience of it ... :-))  

 

 

Comment by Matt Ball on July 25, 2011 at 9:23

Hi Chris, 

I think there are more interesting possibilities when we start to think about the artisitc possibilities offered to us by using live links in performance. Some examples:

Broken Talkers (ireland) piece In Real Time (http://www.brokentalkers.com/blog/view/in-real-time) had a live performer with an audience in one country linked with a performer they'd never met in a flat in another country. 

Stationhouse opera have experimented a lot with this type of work (http://www.stationhouseopera.com/project/6049/) linking live performances in different cities to create an additional performance space - neither virtual or physical - but that has a presence. 

Also have a look at Baba Israel's talk at TEDx York (http://www.ted.com/tedx/events/1144) where he talks about telemetric performance projects - I didn't get to see the whole thing as our connection dropped out but what I saw sounded interesting. 

Also not internet based but looking at pervasive technologies the theatre sandbox commissions http://www.theatresandbox.co.uk/2010-commissions/) are worth a look.

Comment by Julian Sykes on July 23, 2011 at 18:20

Hi Chris,

 

Thanks for the response. Not really sure I agree with the fact that a gig is a gig. As the bands invited people to view the stream at a particular time and only these people would/could watch the show. There was no audience watching the gig live it was purely a streamed event that has allowed a number of bands to reach larger audiences and hopefully being signed up. I take your point that theatre is a live event however so is a gig.

 

Anyway as you said I think there are number of ways of developing multi-platform narratives. However for me personally I am not 100% sure they could/should be classified as theatre alone. There seems to be far to many cross overs of techniques and media to be described as just one discipline. 

 

Just a thought...

Comment by Christopher Cale on July 23, 2011 at 0:50

Thanks for commenting Julian.

 

Whilst I can see how the music industry has informed theatre of these possibilities - I believe it's important to see that theatre can do something 'bigger and better' by not conforming to traditional formats.  For instance, in relation to my last point - a gig being streamed online is still a gig.  However, my idea for the performance at hand is hypothetically like a band playing a full concept album, on location specific to that concept - to no live physical audience.  It just seems like something that needs to be explored, in my mind at least.

 

Glad to see some similar work happening though, and I unfortunately wasn't aware of your piece until now - I'll make sure I get to see it though as it looks very exciting also.

 

Thanks for getting in touch,

Chris

Comment by Julian Sykes on July 22, 2011 at 21:41

Hi Christopher,

 

There is alot being done in this field at the minute, and has been for a number of years. In basic terms I think it came from the music industry and the desire to live stream intimate gigs. this has more recently been developed through online media channels having fictional characters, right through to 'shows' being produced online. I believe National theatre for Scotland did one recently. On another level, although not exactly what you have been discussing we have a production that is starting in September called everwake that has a number of the elements that you have been discussing.

 

Look forward to reading about your journey 

 

Cheers

 

Julian

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