Title: The Show Must Go On(line): Reimagining live performance
Presenter(s): Zoe Rodwell, David Cameron, Gabrielle Aubrey & Barnaby Donaghy
School of Communications and Creative Industries (FoAE)
Session Type: Interactive Discussion
When: Thursday, November 19th 2020 @ 11:30am – 12:30pm
Abstract: Performing arts disciplines have long been challenged by transitions to blended and fully online delivery, but it is an especially wicked problem confronting fields of co-creative live performance. For example, theatre and drama traditionally require live action with the performers and audience co-creating an experience socially in a shared space. Many have long thought that learning and doing theatre and drama in anything but a live form in a shared physical space is impossible, or at the very least changes the experience into ‘something other than performance’ (Phelan, 1993, p. 146). Some educators have also rightly pushed back against the hyperbolic claims made by some educational technology vendors that their products will replicate or simulate face-to-face experiences (Cuban, 2001). It has also been argued that drama education has simply been slower to infuse technologies into theory and practice because the need and urgency has been less apparent than in other fields (Cameron & Anderson, 2009, p. 13). This year, as lockdowns and social distancing restrictions came into force around the world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, theatre practitioners, educators, and students suddenly found themselves ‘in a situation where we had to create theatre and drama from an isolated room, where we were sitting on our own and seeing others only through a screen. Space was not shared any more, and all activities were reduced to two-dimensional images on our laptops’ (Cziboly & Bethlenfalvy, 2020). Social media and livestreaming and webconferencing platforms such as Facebook Live and Zoom became shared virtual rehearsal spaces and stages as educators sought to maintain continuity in learning and teaching. However, have these short-term solutions now triggered longer term adoption of these technologies in theatre and drama education?
CSU’s Theatre Media course provides a useful illustration of both the challenges and opportunities this presents to reimagining performing arts education in blended and online modes. This interactive presentation will include examples of the live performances created and delivered by Theatre Media students in 2020, with discussion of practical lessons learned for rapidly moving a performance-based field into online spaces. Two current students will co-present this interactive discussion, providing an opportunity for participants to engage with learners about their experiences and perspectives. More broadly, discussion will consider the broader educational implications for practice-focused specialisations such as Theatre Media in a world where audiences and students are now more attuned to live performances that are created and experienced via online platforms.