Digital Theatre has launched! Using up to 13 cameras to capture the performance, English Touring Theatre, RSC, Almeida, Royal Court and Young Vic content can for £8.99 be yours in HD. The papers have talked about the idea replacing the thrill of a live show, and of causing a threat to the live, and this is of course usually the nervous counter-argument against digital recording of theatre companies less comfortable with the idea of their audiences seeing their work online.
I find this argument tiresome and insulting to audiences who of course know that the live performance will be the one that makes the hairs on the back of their stand on end as they feel the collective body heat of the audience rise during a tense scene: but in the absence of the cash to pay for the ticket and the trip to London, and in order to avoid the guilt of an expanding carbon footprint due to art, I’d rather see the work from theatre companies than miss it. Audiences still understand live experiences, and the emerging experience economy that we’re seeing as a current cultural behaviour (living in the now, instead of in the future, a desires to collect as many experiences and stories as soon as possible, is addictive) is growing, not shrinking. All things live will continue to rise in value as the digital world encourages copying and sharing. The live experience is the thing that can’t be copied, the thing that has uniqueness and a one-off factor. What do you think?