RPF 14/15 Live theatre broadcasts: hybridity and intermediality

Project: Other projectOther internal award

Project Details



Layman's description

Livestreamed theatre (and other cultural performance) broadcasts have emerged as a significant cultural phenomenon only aiding public access, but also representing a new practice for key institutions the National Theatre. This project seeks to ask how do these broadcasts change the experience of theatre, and how do they work with other media? This hybrid medium introduces challenges practitioners, critics and institutions for the creation, reception and funding of theatrical performances, yet suitable terminologies to frame academic discussion underdeveloped. We seek to identify and articulate these issues, generate new research questions, and scope opportunities for future research by networking with key industry partners and research bodies.

Key findings

Objective 1 - To investigate new critical dialogues between theatre, film, television and interactive media in the context of broadcast live theatre.

A series of meetings and research seminars within the group offered the opportunity to share our own experiences and critical approaches to the subject from the persepctives of theatre practice, theatre and performance analysis, television analysis and screen studies, interactive media, spaces of reception and intermediality. We were able to investigate and enagage with the limited publications on the subject, and to indentify key academic and industry players in the field. Through one to one meetings, workshops and a sysmposium, we discussed questions concerning critical languages of analysis, the practical execution of live broadcasts, technological constraints and future avenues for development, with a range of individuals drawn from industry and academe. We identified a clear need to develop the langauge to both describe and discuss live theatre broadcasting, and for further interdiscplinary synergetic research to track and shape this hybrid medium as being connected to but distinct from theatre, cinema or television.

Objective 2 - To engage with national and local theatre companies and institutions, independent cinemas and distributors of live theatre content, theatre practitioners and the wider academic community through the hosting series of research events.

We were able to make connections and discuss live broadcast with a number of key local and national institutions, including the National Theatre, Royal Opera House, and Royal Shakespeare Company, as well as the York-based Pilot Theatre, SHPLive (Berks), representatives of which all attended and presented at our symposium. In addition we recieved significant international interest and engagement; our symposium hosted delegates and papers from the University of Tampere in Finland, and the University of Vienna/ Vienna State Opera. More progress was made in talking with smaller companies (Pilot, SHP) about web-based distribution than with the larger distributors (e.g Picturehouse); however, the contacts we have gained through e.g. Marcus Romer (Pilot) and John Wyver (Illuminations Media/ RSCLive) have opened a number of doors towards the end of the project which future work will be well-positioned to exploit further. The project symposium at the end of June revealed a range of academics starting to think about the phenomenon of live broadcasting, although none who could draw on the interdisciplinarity of their home departments to the extent offered by TFTV. However, it was clear that interest in this area is growing rapidly; we will therefore hope to swiftly towards submitting further RCUK/EU funding bids. We will be seeking further advice from the HRC as we structure and prepare this/these bids.

Objective 3 - To scope out potential directions and plan larger funding bids from appropriate funding bodies to develop further research in this area.

Several avenues for future research suggest themselves, including a historical appraisal of television and televised live theatre from the late 19th century onwards; a further exploration of the impact of live broadcast in the design, rehearsal and performance of theatre productions, including more detailed research into acting, theatre directing, tv directing and production practices; and the relationship between and potential uses of technology and new media (e.g. social media and webcasting techs) for live broadcast. The slightly delayed timing of the symposium (25th June) has meant that detailed discussions of these future directions will take place over July and through the summer. As well as bids to releveant RCUK and EU bodies, we hope to work closely with colleagues at the DC Hub.
Effective start/end date1/08/1431/07/15