An interesting article over at the guardian.com theatre blog about theatres with no-phone/no-camera rules and whether or not they’re going to have to be more flexible with those rules. Should theatres embrace the interactive age? An article from the Globe and Mail brings up how the notion of sitting in silence in the theatre is relatively new – maybe we need to hearken back to a time when audiences were loud and involved with the show. Is technology ruining the theatre going experience? Or will it enhance the experience for up-incoming theatre goers?
I am unsure myself. Yes, I fully stand behind the interactive nature that technology has brought. As an artist, we now live in a world where we can do everything ourselves. We can make art and put it out into the world and interact with our audiences without a middle man. I love how technology has given me control over my work and I’ll never wish for a return to luddite days.
And that is, in a roundabout way, what’s happening with those picture takers, texters, videors, in the middle of a show. They are interacting and sharing with others. They are taking control of their experience. They are deciding how they are going to experience.
Now that doesn’t mean it doesn’t piss me off. This sentence particularly jumped out at me in the globe article spoken by a member of a focus group.
“Sitting in the dark unable to talk to my friends either in person or virtually is not my idea of a good time.”
And I guess there’s the rub. It is my idea of a good time. I like being plunged into a dark theatre so there is nothing between me and what’s happening on stage. Because, when I go to the theatre I want to be immersed in the world of the play. I don’t want to be reminded of the world that waits for me to leave the theatre. That’s the experience I want.
But to ping pong back, I haven’t grown up with this technology. I didn’t have a cell phone till well into my thirties. I still don’t really text. The next generation of theatre goers is going to be more like that guy who feels alienated if they can’t communicate with their friends whenever they want.
What’s your take? How will technology impact the theatregoing experience in the next 20-30-50 years?