This programme ran in 2010 at the Pervasive Media Studio. For more projects like these please visit the Studio website.

Why theatre & technology?

Why engage theatre with new forms of digital technologies?

We asked theatre artist and producer Matthew Austin to tell us…

In a world which increasingly relies upon digital technology for communication and entertainment, theatre-makers occupy a rarefied space which is 100% live. However, many companies are beginning to take an interest in how the digital world is influencing and changing the way we live and are seeking ways to create work which addresses this shift.

Making theatre can be a lonely experience! Creating dialogue between theatre-makers and those working in digital media opens up the potential for new collaborations and partnerships both short- and long-term.

Making the Live More Live
The integration of digital technology within live performance can also enable artists to throw the live event into relief. Technology makes the live event more live, more visceral and more present. Blast Theory’s work such as Uncle Roy All Around You uses locative technology to pitch online players with those in the real world, the resulting experience for those playing the game on the street is that you feel very much alive and real and aware of your place in the city.

Exploring new forms of digital technology can enable artists to create much more ambitious work. Much work which describes itself as ‘multi-media’ is only scratching the surface of the possibilities of the live/digital event.

Digital technology opens up huge potential for audience development, particularly around web-streaming projects such as NT Live – bringing a theatre performance to audiences across the country, not just those present in the theatre where it is being performed. How can digital technology create experiences for audiences in which they are more actively engaged and involved rather than passively watching?

Living beyond the moment
Using digital technology enables artists to create work lasts beyond the moment of performance. It creates opportunities for live work to have a ‘digital afterlife’, or to continue a creative process online. This is especially useful for theatre artists who work in a field which has no tangible product.

by Matthew Austin
Matthew is co-founder of The Special Guests, a Bristol-based performance company, a member of the Residence artists’ collective, and Co-Director of Mayfest, Bristol’s festival of contemporary theatre.