Phew! I'm exhausted! Earlier today I spent an hour - a whole hour - listening in on the Twitter conversation about filming theatre #StageOnScreen. My ears are burning! Well really, they're not, as I didn't actually listen to anything. It was a virtual conversation that tons of people - including myslef - were virtually a part of.
It strikes me as interesting if not a bit odd/ironic that there we all were, debating the virtues of the live over the recorded theatre experience, whilst all the time silent and totally geographically unconnected. It was an important discussion and one that wouldn't have offered the opportunity to such a diverse constituency of voices had it been programmed as a live event. No one complained about the digital nature of the conversation, in fact there was universal agreement of how exciting, stimulating and energising the debate was. It was totally inclusive and anyone could join in.
Isn't this the point of theatre - both live and recorded? It's about inclusivity and interaction and we should be encouraging people to join as audience members of both experiences. There is no such thing as theatre without the coming together of text, actors and an audience. The audience plays a vital role and in this respect the live experience leads the way and the most faithful captures of play texts are those that include the audience and its response.
The moment you remove the audience and adapt the production for recording purposes it stops being theatre and becomes a film of a play. It's not even the film of a theatrical production. It's a film. A new thing entirely.
At Digital Theatre we respect the live production 100% and present our capture of it in accordance with the original intentions of the writer and director. We enable great live shows to have long life and amazing work to reach people and places that it ordinarily couldn't.
This is good. This isn't bad. Making live football available on Sky Sports has increased not decreased the gate and brought huge revenue to the teams and players. We're not idiots are we? We know that this can do the same for theatre. It's just a matter of time. Let's not be daft and get so caught up that we score an own goal.