During the year I attended one of Dr. Mike Cosgrove’s lectures on Digital Arts for the Digital Humanities MA. It was an attempt to gain a better understanding of the term digital humanities and gain further understanding and appreciation for this area of academia. They were discussing computing as a flexible tool for the artist, particularly, in relation to the theatre. It was a fascinating lecture full of passionate and intense debates.
The first debate surrounded the authenticity of a theatrical performance if it is too digitized. The idea that the digital aspect is being used more for commercial aspects than for artistic development; the idea that Broadway is becoming too ‘bright’. The digital age allows for the constant production of new work meaning modern work never falls into the repertoire of classics. Considering my MA has quiet a significant ‘classic’ element, this struck a cord with me. But as we went on further into the discussion of digital in the theatre I began to realize, even the digital age has its roots in the classical. The Greeks were the first institute to use lighting of any kind. They used ‘gas lights’. They were the first to use the idea of ‘sets’ and different ‘sets’. They were even the developers of the first trapdoors.
The next debate enveloped to what extent can ‘digital’ change the theatrical performance before it becomes a new genre? If we’re so surrounded by digital does the theatre then HAVE to be digital to be endearing/sustainable? Is it a new ‘genre’ of theatre or is it incorporating a new style into the same theatre? There were many different opinions on this topic but all agreed that the creation of a suspension of disbelief is the ultimate goal regardless of how it is achieved.
As a theatre-goer I had simply attended and enjoyed the experience of a show and had never given too much contemplation to the digital aesthetic of a production. Suffice to say this will no longer be the case.
Suben, Matthias. Ancient Greek theatre (Segesta). 2012. Photograph. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.