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Devoted & Disgruntled 12: What Shall We Do About Theatre and the Performing Arts Now?

Snazzy technologies in storytelling and theatre: good or bad?

Amy Rose - 16 January 2017

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I called the session because there were very few conversations going on about technology and how it is changing both theatre form itself and the world around us. People came and it was lively! I failed to write down everyone's names - but we all introduced ourselves at the start..

The main drive of the conversation was trying to explore how new formal techniques can reflect the world around us in experiential ways - or, how can we use technology within pieces of work to formally represent, explore or symbolise our world as it changes? Can technological devices become metaphors themselves?

There was a general agreement that tech can be used badly - but that is nothing new. All things can be done badly. Perhaps the danger with tech is that doing it badly is very obvious - and then becomes a focal point for the audience to cuss the work. When, actually, there may be still some good things behind the failures.

What seems most important is being very clear about context for various formal devices. Why, why, and why again are we doing anything when we make work - justification for the means of communication remains paramount. Particularly when it is expensive and complex to implement.

The notes in the attached pictures point to different avenues that the conversation took. My own personal favourite quote: “the internet itself and social media is a never-ending game” - which was a comment when we were talking about games and the meeting point between games and theatre when tech is involved. Real life meets art meets dystopian futurism.

We didn't even vaguely get into talking about how to practically work with tech - and the different practises / team members / sensibilities that it demands. Overall, in my experience, the tech community is brilliantly open and good at failing - which has been a refreshing flavour in R&D when many theatre and film makers can get too precious about their own work. The tech community tests early and often - and this is a good thing!

Anyone interested in the implementation of technologies both in art, and the world - should come to the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol and meet the community of makers, artists, experimenters and thinkers in residence.

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