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BWW Blog: Now Is The Time To Get Experimental (With Digital Theatre)

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Think about it! This medium could be actually explored instead of just tolerated.

BWW Blog: Now Is The Time To Get Experimental (With Digital Theatre)

I feel like every few weeks I read that Broadway reopening has been pushed back to a later date. On the other hand, local theatres around me are continuing their seasons with actors wearing face masks and providing hand sanitizers for all audience members.

These steps don't leave me comforted.

Local theaters don't have the financial security to leave them completely closed during this pandemic - I understand that. But the past few months we have found a situation to live theatre was transferred online in more ways then pro-shots being uploaded to YouTube. We had actual plays and musicals performed digitally. It was used as a temporary solution for the lack of live theatre, but it seems like a mistake to throw it away so soon.

In my opinion, more theaters should be taking this route instead of trying to open back up so quickly.

Think about it! This medium could be actually explored instead of just tolerated. Right now digital theatre feels limited to actors sitting in front of their laptops and reacting to their camera, but if we do more than accept that as the best it could be, it could be more then a replacement for live theatre.

The first instinct is to adopt cinematic qualities: editing, sending better equipment (either to seem more professional, or to make everyone seem on the same page technology-wise), asking to set up their backgrounds in such a way to better imply a set.

These are not inherently bad directions, in my opinion. A lot of the limitations of doing digital live puts some people off. Leveling the technological issues of services like Zoom and making them more like movies can ease any annoyances that can occur with dropping audio levels or the camera randomly focusing on someone who isn't talking.

But still, moving towards a more edited, cinematic feel is also moving away from what makes theatre feel alive. Turning plays into filmed and polished versions of what you see on a stage isn't going to hit that sweet spot that watching something live will. So to keep that feeling, we have to work with this New Medium as it stands.

My favorite aspect of digital theatre that I've been seeing is the switch from casual to in-character that most shows are made for you NOT to see. There's no backstage for the actors to hang out and some productions have them placed in that waiting room until the show is started, but most in my experience have the actors visible as everyone is logging on and you get to see that switch into character. Also if there is intermission or a small break, then the tone of the show goes right back to casual and it's like a spontaneous talk-back every time as they read comments!

Anyone that has read a past blog post of mine should know that I also consume a large amount of podcasts! Podcast musicals are another form of digital theatre that we could be start moving towards in this time, as they are not only as accessible as the average podcast but bring something entirely new to the genre!

It's moments like these that make digital theatre unique, and I think instead of rushing to go back to what we knew before we should be taking this time to really get used to this medium.

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From This Author Student Blogger: Katelen Hankins