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The Potential of Digitally Enhanced Theatre Performances

The third panellist at WebSci '09 is Olga Pozeli. She says that film appeared in the late 1800s, and was exhibited at first in music halls - the first properly exhibited movie was a comedy. Film and theatre have long been aligned, and film provides a magic spectacle. The use of technological innovations in film and theatre has been artistically and politically justified by many filmmakers and dramatists along the way, but there has also been criticism of this, arguing especially that technologically augmented theatre was in effect apologising for not being film.

Technologically augmented theatre also addresses the new digital generations who are used to screen-based, interactive media, of course - but it is also important to remember how much film has learnt and borrowed from theatre. How can the mixture of theatre and digital technology blur the boundaries between each component element? How can theatre be a presentation rather than a reenactment?

Performance using digital technology may be able to lead audiences to ponder the nature of the performance. The aim is to make spectators more active, rather leave them out - not merely technical brilliance but real (even interactive) involvement. Some of this is practiced in the very cultural centre where we're currently sitting, in fact, which offers virtual reality performances of ancient Greek life.

Phew - this panel has turned out to be a bit of a trainwreck. And now the panel MC is having an argument about online music distribution models with an audience member. Oh dear.

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