Greetings to all! My name is Lauren Mayfield and I am currently pursuing my M.A. in English from Chapman University in California. I am a quirky amalgamation of an appreciation for academia, a nerdy interest in technology, and – above all – a love affair with theatre and the performing arts. This might explain why I simultaneously wear the hats of literature student, marketing associate for a website development company, drama teacher, stage manager, and actor.
If you have ever been involved with a play or musical in any form – high school, children’s community theatre, college, professional, you name it – then you are already well familiar with the following phrase:
“I can’t. I have rehearsal.”
These five little words essentially sum up the life of a “theatre kid.” We spend hours, weeks, even months practicing and perfecting our art. All of this preparation is essentially funneled into a few weeks of live performances until suddenly… poof… it’s gone. It’s thrilling, it’s utterly exhausting, and I have been addicted from an early age.
Every so often, I find myself thinking about the temporary nature of theatre. One of the main differences between live theatre and film is that theatre cannot be exactly replicated on a whim. Even the same production with the same cast will give slightly variant performances on different nights. This instability has become a point of pride for many theatre professionals, many of whom denounce technologies that try to capture live performance.
How then, can video and internet technologies relate to such a transient art form? Not everyone in the theatre community seems anti-technology. Some Broadway musicals have released professional DVD recordings of their shows for the public to purchase (the original production of “Into the Woods,” for example), but this is rare. Some professional theatres across the country are beginning to embrace platforms like YouTube as advertising tools for their upcoming season, but others do not seem to possess the knowledge or the desire to embrace internet technology as an advantage.
Can technology help shape the world of the theatre without contaminating its identity as a live art form? Is it useful for preservation? Should it be the standard for theatre advertisement? Does it somehow harm the underlying structure of the performing arts? These are the sorts of questions I think about, and I welcome any thoughts or insights you may offer. :-)