Theatre Squared Theatre History In The Age Of Media-Books Pdf

Theatre Squared Theatre History in the Age of Media
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Theatre Squared, Theatre History in the Age of Media. Sarah Bay Cheng, Recordings deal with concepts through which the past is reevaluated and they concern notions. about the future which will ultimately question even the validity of evaluation. Glenn Gould The Prospects of Recording, In 1964 Canadian pianist Glenn Gould quit live performance in favor of perfecting recordings. of his performances In an essay published two years later The Prospects of Recording 1966. Gould explained his decision by predicting that in the next century the live concert would reach. extinction Far from a lamentable course of events Gould embraced the end of the live performance. as the opportunity for a more cogent experience of music than is now possible 47 The end of. the live concert may never come but Gould s comments are eerily prescient of contemporary per. formance and its reliance on recording technology first film then video and more recently digital. recording Much attention has been paid to the impact of these technologies on live theatre produc. tion and reception but little criticism to date has considered the impact of recording technology. on theatre history on the archive in the making And yet moving images on screens have become. a dominant arguably the dominant mode of viewing throughout our increasingly mediatized cul. ture From portable DVD players to video iPods to cellular phones modern culture communicates. onscreen This essay is a preliminary consideration of the impact of recording technology on the. study of theatre history and a proposal for a critical means for assessing the phenomenon and ef. fect of recorded or mediated theatre Mediated theatre may be broadly defined as any theatrical. performance originally created for live performance that is live actors in visual proximity to a live. audience although this distinction is hardly absolute and subsequently recorded onto any visually. reproducible medium including film videotape or digital formats presented as two dimensional. moving images on screens, There is a danger of course in too broadly grouping various recording technologies Variations. in recording processes collaborative individual apparatuses celluloid analog videotape digital. devices and receptions public projections private viewings have discrete histories methods and. results not to mention very different modes of viewing in social economic and cultural contexts. While undoubtedly distinct these media share certain characteristics of image construction con. ventions of time and space and mutual reliance on screens that we may usefully juxtapose against. embodied performance in the theatre At the risk of oversimplifying then I would like to introduce. a discussion of mediated theatre broadly construed for the purposes of understanding the process. of capturing live performance in moving images and the methods by which these images within the. frame of the screen the theatre squared can be used in theatre history analysis and teaching. The Rise of Mediated Theatre, Perhaps the most obvious influence of visual recording technology on theatre history is the.
emergence and growth of the moving image archive an expanding collection of mediated perfor. mance representations that includes film television broadcasts rehearsal videotapes documentaries. 38 Sarah Bay Cheng, and digitally recorded productions These collections are diverse including institutional collections in. libraries as well as private video and film collections The professional organization the Association. of Moving Image Archivists AMIA asserts that such an archive will eventually provide the same. archival value as textual artifacts currently do According to the AMIA web site amianet org a s. our culture is increasingly shaped by visual images in the digital age historians may soon rely on. moving images as much as on the printed word to understand 21st century culture. Within theatre studies the use of videos is already widespread Drama anthologies for example. increasingly list not only examples of further reading but also video resources for plays within them 1. Many theatre and performance classes from Shakespeare to contemporary performance art use. videos to illustrate aspects of theatre performance Given the limitations of theatre productions in. many locations mediated theatre is often the best way to expose students to a range of performance. traditions styles and genres Even within a major theatre city one cannot always ensure access to. a Greek tragedy a Restoration play and Bunraku puppetry in the course of a single term so video. documentation of varying types can make these performances available to students according to. the exact timing of the professor To the best of my knowledge no survey yet exists cataloging the. use of mediated theatre in classrooms but certainly there is enough demand to drive the increased. range of video databases that have emerged In addition to collections primarily for scholarly use. such as the videos and films housed in the Billy Rose Collection at the New York Public Library for. the Performing Arts and available only onsite commercial databases like the Broadway Theatre. Archive Theatre Arts Video Library and Insight Media promote mediated theatre for classroom. use Despite the prevalence of such media how many courses include an analysis thereof within. their theatre studies, This is not only a question for the classroom Outside of academia it is impossible to deny the. dominance of moving images in the reception of theatrical performance For one thing the audience. for mediated theatre is growing Amid the usual hand wringing over aging subscribers and the loss. of young audiences to mass screen entertainment live theatre is now threatened by its own media. double According to the National Endowment for the Arts NEA 2002 Survey of Public Participa. tion in the Arts SPPA only 22 3 percent of adults attended at least one live theatre performance. during the previous twelve month period while 21 percent watched at least one recorded version. of a theatre performance 2 This may be startling enough but when comparing the numbers of live. attendance to mediated viewings adults who attended at least one live theatrical performance viewed. twice as many productions of mediated theatre for musicals and three times as many productions. for nonmusicals Moreover while attendance at live theatre declined between the 1997 and 2002. SPPA reports the percentage of adult Americans watching mediated theatre grew 17. Mediated theatre is thus not only prevalent within theatre education it is also threatening to. become the theatre archive of the future Ironically theatre is simultaneously drained of live audi. ences and sustained via increased viewership by media and accordingly theatre performance has. begun to anticipate its own media history Take for example the national multisite theatre festival. 365 Days 365 Plays written and organized by Suzan Lori Parks coproduced with Bonnie Metzger. This yearlong festival of plays is intended to create a new geography for artistic productions in the. Internet age 3 by combining live performances with digital records The information packet for the. festival advises potential participants that y ou are responsible to video document the performance. for the purpose of either uploading video to a central 365 Days 365 Plays web site or posting it on. an independent web site Parks is smart to document an expansive multisite simultaneous event like. this and she shares the thinking of many social media theorists who cite wiki technology most widely. known through the interactive online encyclopedia Wikipedia and other digital social networking. tools as exciting possibilities for collaboration and community 4 However Parks also conceives the. project as a grass roots theatre event one that does not conflate at least in its stated intention live. performance with the mediated record The function of the media is at least in part to archive the. live theatrical performances, Theatre Squared 39, Theatre has long lamented and cherished its mass media limitations but such a move suggests. the potential for performance archives in the mass media environment Practically speaking I think. Parks s approach will become the norm if it is not already It certainly is in other fields media arts. shows festivals conferences and juried exhibitions of performance art interactive technology and. mixed reality performance the integration of live actors and virtual agents often require video. documentation for consideration and participation With the affordability and flexibility of digital. recording devices and ease of distribution e g web sites like YouTube and MySpace moving. images are rapidly becoming the primary currency for artistic exchange This it seems to me is the. new geography that Parks seeks and it presents new challenges for interpreting moving images as. evidence of live performance 5, This is surely a critical development for emerging theatre artists who will be well served by. training programs that encourage and develop their digital and media skills e g web site design. and digital video production as well as more typical acting for the camera courses However it. also has significance for students of theatre history As letters give way to disposable e mail journals. to blogs and promptbooks to video documentation the theatre history archive of the future will. no doubt become increasingly dependent on if not overwhelmingly devoted to moving images. on screens Certainly mediated theatre can preserve theatre performances in more complete more. accessible forms than existed for much of theatre history Patrice Pavis for example in his Analyz. ing Performance Theater Dance and Film suggests that e ven when filmed with a single camera. from a fixed position a video recording is a testimony that effectively restores the thickness of. signs it allows an observer to grasp a sense of the performance style and to keep sequences and the. use of different materials fresh in the memory 43 Of course Pavis does not see the video as a. historical record per se which he locates instead in theatre archeology that resists technologies of. reproduction 44 6 In its apparent completeness however mediated records of a theatrical event. complicate Pavis s distinction between an archeology that resists representation and a media record. devoid of presence, While few if any would argue that moving images are transparent undistorted windows to the.
performance itself moving image records do grant a unique insight and challenge to performance. analysis while simultaneously masking their own mediation As Pavis himself notes in Theatre at the. Crossroads of Culture media recordings of theatre can according to the will of the media director. choose either to erase the most visual and stagy aspects of theatricality by looking for cinematic. effects and naturalizing the acting style and sets or to display this theatricality underlining it with. an abstract set and half sung diction as if the camera were reporting from the theatre itself 111. Mediated theatre is seductive in its totality It appears to be the thing itself particularly for a viewer. for whom the live theatre is at best an occasional event but for whom moving images through. games the Internet reality television video cinema are the stuff of life itself 7 The media record. ing of theatre certainly is a thing itself but the more sophisticated the recording and projection. the less we observe the line between the performance and the media This is the phenomenon that. film theorist Andr Bazin observed in his Theatre and Cinema Part Two Analyzing theatre on. film Bazin draws attention to what he calls the middle stage between presence and absence It is. false to say that the screen is incapable of putting us in the presence of the actor for in the film. e verything takes place as if in the time space perimeter which is the definition of presence. 97 98 We observe film knowing that the moving images are a recording of the reality distant. from us the viewers and yet we are present for the projecting of the film itself While Bazin focused. his inquiries on the cinema we might expand this argument to all recorded media 8 Both present. and absent the recorded performance cannot be simply a transparent window to the performance. it records nor can it be dismissed as irrelevant to the theatrical performance. The emergence of mediated theatre necessarily complicates critical theatre historiography and. pedagogy particularly the records and recordings that live performances leave behind Indeed as. the sophistication of recording technology steadily improves and theatre and dance productions are. 40 Sarah Bay Cheng, conceived with an eye toward their own mediated preservation it will become increasingly difficult. to argue as Robert Knopf does that theater performance by virtue of its live ness disappears as. soon as it is spoken leaving texts scripts as the primary record and most widely consumed artifact of. the theatrical event 6 Film video digital motion capture even video cellphones have all become. mobile ubiquitous tools for recording live performance Are these really less reliable less accurate. or less authentic than the textual documentation that preceded them. Viewing mediated theatre an activity distinct from both reading dramatic texts and watching. live performance will thus become an essential tool for theatre and performance historiography. 365 Days 365 Plays written and organized by Suzan Lori Parks coproduced with Bonnie Metzger This yearlong festival of plays is intended to create a new geography for artistic productions in the Internet age 3 by combining live performances with digital records The information packet for the

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