There’s a debate in the air about capturing theatre, which can often appear self-serving, and I think may prove, in time, redundant.

It swerves around the sensibilities of artists and swirls around the adventure in capturing live performance, blowing onto the arts pages from time to time as audiences grow and a mass market develops for live and recorded arts. Does the debate about live and captured really come down to mere taste, a certain ‘house’ philosophy or production style or there something more at stake?

What’s live? What’s a live encore? What’s recorded live?  Do the audience really care?

What is this experience? The act of theatre or performance that is in question, its liveness will never be in question, but what is this facsimile or copy or transmission of this ‘liveness? ‘The boundaries blur and the line diminishes. At what’s key in our practice is that the line between the audience and the performer are not undermined.

This is where the actor’s focus is and must remain – this is theatre – this exchange – and why so much theatre captured in television studios appears so bizarre and disconcerting – a jumble of languages and signifiers muddling the line from the writer’s imagination to the audience’s perception. The ‘black box’ dominates – a dead realm – a void.

On stage in the empty theatre space what occurs is an act of conjuring, a world brought into existence through the creatives and the artists on the production. Theatre is the art of suggestion, and the more persuasive the suggestion, the better the experience. This can sometime be through hyper naturalism or sometimes through great poetic statements – either can seem utterly real and utterly persuasive in the mind of the audience.

So what of this new facsimile? Is it a new art form, a new hybrid? Or is it simply technology allowing a small auditorium to become a global auditorium. The means of transmission shift and change, adapt and mutate. They will change with technology and confront technology when the act of theatre and the line between the actor and the audience becomes disrupted.

Dramatic truth is a comprehended truth no matter what the medium and the modes of expression. It is this, which the act of capture is engaged in, live or recorded. What this truth is will continue to be debated. There will be many players and the audience, will no doubt makes its own mind up.


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