What happens to SPACE in Theatre, when technology is introduced?

Technology has always played a vital part in theatre, and as technology becomes more advance the art form that is theatre has learnt to adapt itself and embrace the changes presented to it, to keep the industry alive and exciting.

As a regular theatre goer, there is nothing more exciting than new technology merging itself with classic plays and timeless stories. “Electronic networks are now an integral part of our human-material/cultural ecologies” (K. Armstrong, 2002) and this is evident within modern artwork/performances.

It is believed fire was used as an aid to help enhance stories, the ancient Greeks were renown for their excessive use of props, costumes and masks to dramatize their performances, by the 18th century the Italians were embracing the mirror effect to help project the image of a ghost on stage. (H. Harvey, 2009). Today, our new electronic networks are bought into new theatre to help integrate the current state of society and time with the very old form of live artwork.

Example, in Melbourne 2010 Tim Burton’s expedition featured a live/video performance with a woman performing in video in another unknown city, and her image was transported live to the Melbourne audience. 3D technology, and surround sound all helped capture and create the ‘live’ and ‘intimate’ feel, showcasing how easy and even unnecessary the need for ‘time/space’ is in the performance world. It challenges us to think outside of the norm, to look at theatre from a different perspective and even feel it differently, so that we may connect on a different level. Changing ideas and performances such as these will embrace new technologies and understandings of what space to constantly surprise us, and offer us something new.

Computers are now used as a method to create a realistic feel to some semi-autobiographical pieces, in Belviours 2011 production of “Jack Charls and the Crown”, video technology of real footage was used in the background the give the story a sense of realism and draw parallels’ to the truth. “The coexistence of “live” performers and digital media in the same unbroken space with a co-present audience.” (H.Harvy, 2009) Digital Theater is generally seen as having narrative content to differentiate it from Performance Art, which seeks to provoke the user into exploring an artistic statement. Digital Theater is also defined as taking place in a single location as opposed to “Desktop Theater” which includes web-based role-playing, games and collaborative storytelling.

And this is what is so exciting about our current ‘arts’ industry. Traditional values to stories and characters are usually maintained but how they are presented and the space in which they are presented in has all been challenged. And yes, it is still art; to steal one of Shakespeare’s most famous lines “what is in a name?/That which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet” (from Romeo and Juliet, by Shakespeare 1597) Modern theatre, like Street theatre still addresses issues does it not? In the same way Macbeth did. And Modern musical theatre like Mary Poppins, with all its glorious costumes/props and use of digital media still entertains in the same sense the Phantom of the Opera did in 1987, yes?


1- http://seven.fibreculturejournal.org/fcj-047-intimate-transactions-the-evolution-of-an-ecosophical-networked-practice/

2 – http://www.chunkymove.com/Our-Works/Current-Productions/Mortal-Engine.aspx



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