Lightning Talk Digital Humanities Australasia 2018

Theatre of the 4th Dimension (58)

Michael Allen 1
  1. Anthropology and Development Studies, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, Australia

Live performance story telling, or theatre, has been part of human culture throughout history regardless of social affluence or austerity, freedom or censorship. It is born of the community it serves exploring the metaphors of everyday life in a hermeneutic cycle of meaning.

With the emergence of web based culture and social mediation it stands that a version of live theatre online will eventually emerge. The web and live streaming has created opportunities for conventional theatre companies to exploit their broadcast and market share reach. But merely relaying the post-produced performance of a live event can only be a facsimile experience, being an ephemeral, visceral and temporal experience that it is/was.

To be considered a live theatre experience online means to be reflective of the same features of culture in the same way as conventional theatre. It requires deeper consideration about the symbols, mediums, behaviours and power of an online existence and the communities that bind social experience. It also requires new hybrid practices and techniques for creating these performances; new venues and stages, acting techniques and script writing.

This PhD research is exploring these considerations through the lens of cultural anthropology and performance studies. A small ensemble of actors and writers have been exploring online character development, performance skills, technical production (which is akin to live broadcast filming) and the democratised relationships between performer and audience. Our work hopes to establish online theatre practices which contribute to the emerging community of theatre makers around the world exploring this new form.

This lighting talk will discuss field work experiences of this online theatre company and consider pathways to a clearer picture of what theatre in this new dimension of human culture may be in the future.