1 July 2011
I am very unsure about the move towards broadcasting live shows over the digital network to audiences around the country. It seems to me the essential nature of theatre is its live component. But not just for its own sake. Theatre is about communication between the actors on stage and the audience: a three way conversation. Remove the audience from the actors and it becomes something very different. All good actors respond minutely to their audience - but in a digital context the actors have no idea of the effect their show is having on the remote audience and no way of adjusting or playing their role in tune with an audience's reaction. This is not theatre to me. It's something different and if I'm honest, something far less interesting and potentially dangerous. A lot of theatre is boring - and there is a risk that it could become even more boring when played over cinema screens under the pretext that this is 'live' theatre. It isn't - and no child or uninformed theatregoer should be told they are involved in watching a 'live' show - or else we may never see those people in a theatre again. I understand why theatres want to do it and I know that people enjoy watching the transmissions, but I hope that the word 'live' is treated very carefully when marketing these shows. The only 'live' thing about the show is that it is happening somewhere else at the same time as you're watching it. And that has very little to do with theatre to me.
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