This Week’s Insights: Can live theatre be replicated in virtual reality?… Better performances versus better audiences… Recapturing our first experiences in the theatre… Are movies still movies on the small screen?
- Can Live Performance In The Theatre Translate To Virtual Reality? LIVR is a bet that it can, in the launch of a new virtual reality network that aims to make theatre “more accessible to all” by giving users a “fully immersive 360-degree experience” of live performance from their homes. Subscribers can stream shows using a mobile phone app for LIVR and watch them via a free virtual reality headset that is provided by the service. The immediate question: we celebrate the uniqueness of live performance and being in the space where it happens. Can VR capture the essence of that experience for the living room? Isn’t experiencing a performance in the company of others one of the essential qualities? On the other hand, maybe the comparison shouldn’t be being in the space at all, and perhaps creating VR experiences that are different (or potentially better?) than being there in person.
- Building A Better Audience: We don’t talk about this nearly enough. This smart essay by Tim Parks in the New York Review of books ponders the relationship between a book and a reader: “To exist as a book, the pages with their letters and spaces need a reader. We may think of books as unchanging material objects, but they only, as it were, happen when read; they have no absolute identity. And the nature of that reading—an experience extended over many hours, then mulled over for many more, for the book does not cease to happen the moment we turn the last page—will depend, to a large degree, on who the reader is.” Extend this idea to performance – do we merely want people who may be unaffected by what they’ve seen or heard or do we want audiences who will be changed or moved in some way? Assuming the latter, how do we build better audiences who know what they’re experiencing and engage with it?
- How Do People Who Work In The Theatre Hold On To What Theatre Feels Like To An Audience? Theatre can be magical, yes – but if you work in the theatre,”it’s easy to forget what compelled us into the profession in the first place. It can be lost amid the realities of the job at hand, chasing the next opportunity and our familiarity with the things that enthralled us once upon a time. It is also easy to forget what a personal experience theatre can be, where actors walk out of stage doors every night to waiting fans. It’s an experience that cannot be replicated by movies and television.” So how do you get back to that first experience that made you fall in love with theatre?
- As Far As Audiences Go Is A Movie Just A Movie? There’s an interesting debate going on right now, sparked by Netflix’s ascendancy in awards season. Should movies that play only on the small screen be called movies? Steven Spielberg is leading the argument that they should not. Had “Roma” won Oscars’ Best Picture, the definition of what a movie is would have changed. But “the debate about the future of moviegoing shouldn’t be a binary one between a studio system increasingly beholden to franchises and intellectual property, and a nihilistic streaming service set on eliminating all competitors and monopolizing its users’ attention. The real problem with film right now is a lack of diversity caused by a lack of competition — both in Hollywood and online.”