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The Big Merge: Internet and Theatre

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Some will reject it all together, some will half-ass-idly try to incorporate it, many will fail, but sometimes and someday we will find a way, the way to merge the internet, social media and our smartphones with the staged theatre.

An article on HowlRound explored different possibilities and a personal experiment with using the internet to better the theatre. Basically this group was streaming performances/rehearsals of a new theatre piece in process. The problem with this tactic is it’s so basic. Think outside the box people! Are we going back to the first films of our time and just setting a camera in front of a stage and filming the actors play? That’s been done! There are so many possibilities that this simply put “internet” can bring us to help add to the theatrical experience.

 

I was really interested in the other examples of what some theatre companies and groups are doing around the country. There is obviously the usage of social media as marketting tool for the performance itself but what I am more interested in is social media as a way into the live performance. There is a lot of opportunity for audience involvement when they don’t have to actually speak during the performance.

At INTAR Theatre two summers ago, I saw Teatro Luna on tour presenting pieces from their various seasons and because they had so many scenes to perform but a short amount of time, they offered audience of ones they wanted to see– through tweeting at the theatre company during pre-show. There was also acknowledgement of this during the show so it wasn’t a voiceless endeavor. We should consider more how to incorporate these new abilities we have, now that everyone can connect. That, the ability to connect, is what is new for us because of “the internet”. We can all link in to something.

I’m interested in the use of bringing the life of the theatre, specifically the characters of the play, outside of the stage an onto our phones or laptops. In high school, I was in an arts program that encouraged us to work on individual and group projects. Our program, STAC, was commissioned by the administration to make a series of anti-bullying commericals (specifically about cyber bullying which was a hot topic at the time) to be aired on the school’s morning announcements- on TV screens. One group made a video series of a typical group of girls portraying subtle senarios of bullying i.e. subtle exclusion, etc. What they also added was a life outside the video part using fake facebook accounts of all the characters. The performance would happen at night and throughout the day even after the morning announcements because of these facebook accounts. The characters would post on each others’ facebook walls and have “facebook fights”- friends deleted each other, wrote about each other. You as an audience member would be on facebook at night, procrastinating homework, and see all the drama going on with these characters only then to see the aftermath on the morning announcements the next day! The “web performances” talked about in this HowlRound article reminded me of this situation, but the ones from my high school also incorporated a human theatrical visual.

 

I wonder what would happen if audience members recieved texts during the performance– or were encouraged to get online during intermission– what if something about the story happened during intermission… There are so many possibilities! We just have to be brave enough to try them.

 

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