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Between Theatre and Photography, Between Photography and Performance, Between Performance and Theatre

Anderson, Joel (2016) Between Theatre and Photography, Between Photography and Performance, Between Performance and Theatre. Drama Studies, 49. pp. 5-35. ISSN 1738-9267

Abstract

There is no certainty that we can even speak of theatre and media, since it can be argued that theatre is itself a medium, an instance of media; certainly if we follow McLuhan’s broad notion of media as ‘extensions’, we must consider theatre an apparatus, a means of communication, of distribution, of circulation, one needing to be defined in terms of its particularities in relation to and comparison with other forms of media.

But theatre seems at odds with our habitual understandings of a medium, through its hybrid constitution as much as by way of the limitations of its setup. Certainly, theatre can seem distant from the notion of ‘the media’ (referring to new technologies and/or the ‘mass media’). Indeed, much discussion around theatre in relation to media is organised around the encounter between the two, or it plots theatre’s shifts (for the better or for the worse) in contact with (new) technologies. Frequently, scholars are concerned with how theatre and performance adapt themselves (by way of appropriation or resistance) when met with media.

In scholarship, the staging of an opposition between theatre and media can tend to summon theatre as an emblem of the pre-technological, an old form and practice facing the new. With the intention of avoiding such a theatre-‘centrism’, although with little hope of succeeding, I seek here to examine two examples of theatre/performance and photography.

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