Theatre ten years from now – late night musings

On the late night train from #BABELlondon I’m reading an interesting article in WIRED. ‘The big question’ it screams ‘How will television evolve over the next decade?’. Here are some of the things the panel said:-

• ‘Imagine a living room version of the iPad’ writes Liz Rosenthal (power to the pixel),
• ‘advances in sight, mind and gesture based technologies. Walls may become video displays and multiple projectors will move us closer to holographic and immersive TV experiences’ writes Gary Shapiro of Consumer Electronics Association
• Broadcast TV will continue to flourish, with money going into big, live event TV with mass audience appeal and highly targeted TV that plays to specific audience groups (writes Victoria Jaye – head of IPTV and TV Online)
• TV is becoming a much more integrative experience (writes Robert King, Samsung UK)
• Your home TV will be fully connected, voice activated, paper thin and lightning fast (writes Kenton Allen Big Talk Productions)

If that’s what is going to happen in TV it begs the question what might happen in theatre?

Satyrs – a brief mention of Greek Theatre legitimately allows me to use this pic (from here

Here’s one mans musings…

• Traditional theatre will remain relatively strong with audiences appreciating the contrast and uniqueness of an experience of live performance in a real, shared space to an increasingly technology / screen based world. After all its served us well since the Greeks…
• But there will be less of it – a combination of funding cuts, continued increasing competition for audience time & money and new talent choosing to explore other avenues all having impacted. (In time this will significantly impact on commercial and west end theatre as opportunities to test and develop talent reduce)
• More work will be released / distributed through multiple platforms (with live, streamed, gaming and mobile content all available and potentially running in parallel). Lines between digital, tv and live performance will become increasingly blurred (of course many creatives already work across all sectors)
• As with TV, work will increasingly have a sophisticated interactive / immersive / integrative element – and in the next decade we will have truly cracked the potential and possibilities of this within the world of theatre.
• We will have been forced to ditch our obsession with buildings . Up and down the country our Lottery inspired Palaces of Culture will stand empty or have found a new life / change of use. Instead we will see more of the models of National Theatre of Wales and Scotland (and arguably Eastern Angles) – companies who create work in found and shared spaces – from schools to museums, fields to airport hangers
• The middle ground (rep theatres, middle scale touring etc) of our sector may begin to look increasingly barren – lost in between two extremes and with fewer ‘homes’. Instead driven by civic agendas there will be more of the one off, ‘destination’ ‘spectacle’ events. At the other end of the spectrum driven by the hyper-local agendas which will continue to be critical work will find its way into the most unusual of spaces.

Given that I predicted the demise of the arts council in my undergraduate thesis (back in 1994) I wouldn’t lay much stock by my ability as a fortune teller. However I feel slightly uncomfortable saying that given recent press stories .

…love to know your thoughts.


8 thoughts on “Theatre ten years from now – late night musings

  1. Pingback: Three Crazy Nights (One Pig, Babel London and The Invasion) « Matthew Linley’s Blog

  2. “work in found and shared spaces ”

    i just hope they can make the audiences comfortable. Way to reach younger people – way to alienate older ones. I now avoid promenade performances due to a bad back – I’ve left great shows in the interval due to not having any way to relieve the pain. And I’m not 50 yet! That piece in the old swimming pool at Blackfriars last year was agony, sitting on a folded towel on a cold, shallow stone step with no back support, no warning when I booked – even the nearby 20-year-olds were fidgetting wildly by the end. And as for the Old Vic Tunnels – “site specific? nein danke!”

      • Ha! I saw Margaret Catchpole the first time around – at Diss, maybe 10 years ago? – and enjoyed it a lot. I also remember good seating! Also just to clarify, that swimming play was at the Bridewell Theatre. It just bothers me that theatre is essentially discriminating against (not-that-much-) older fans without realising it – young theatre-makers really do not think about this issue, perhaps because (as I now realise from my great age) they have no idea of the aches and pains that await them in the not-too-distant future! Funnily enough, you’re usually ok if you’re in a wheelchair, as provision is made, but if you just NEED TO SIT DOWN you’re stumped. A pregnant friend recently had to leave the last production of Othello at the Rose Theatre (the archaeological one in SE1) and I got a stiff neck from trying to see. And as for Goats and Monkeys’ debut at the Southwark Playhouse – they made us kneel on a concrete floor! Ruined my tights and hurt like hell. Bloke next to me was groaning out loud! This seems to have turned into a bit of a rant… sorry!

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