The Guardian, by Rachael Castell
posted January 31, 2014
The stage is a precious space, both magic and real, but plays are written to be performed again and again – why not digitally? When I was an MA student exploring the history of film and visual media, my investigative mind inevitably ambled over the connection between cinema and death, most notably the death of celluloid. But when I talk about filmmaking these days, I find myself discussing things being "live" – in the here and now.
This is because the majority of my film work, and my personal fascination, is in filmed theatre – you might call it "alternative content" or "event cinema". It's an as yet undefined media integrating the live and the recorded: an amalgamation of filmic language (close-ups, fades, panning shots, HD technology) and the real, retaining and often even enhancing the live theatre experience. Being able to offer viewers the best seat in the house wherever they live is a concept currently the darling of arts and cultural researchers and funders.
But what is this new genre? Just as the founders of cinema grappled with the flicker of light through celluloid over a century ago, we – as audiences, critics and producers – are suddenly grappling with how to describe watching theatre on screen. I make my living in this market, but even I can't be persuaded of a term. "Event cinema" seems reasonable. Cinecasting? Sure. Alternative content? I guess so, but alternative to what?
If that's not enough debate for you, there are plenty of other contested questions: should a production be broadcast live, or as live? Is seeing a play in a movie theatre, or on your laptop, or even your iPhone a good or bad thing?
Canopy Arts Desk
Tammy Hampel (Isaacson)
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