Weaving worlds : multimedia and space in contemporary theatre

Sheldrake, Pauline (2007) Weaving worlds : multimedia and space in contemporary theatre. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

Abstract

This play, Weaving Worlds, and the accompanying case study of its use of multimedia examine how multimedia can complexify space in theatre. The case study explores the process of writing a play that has multimedia elements scripted into it. Space in theatre can be defined in terms of its function as well as its location, its representational ideas and as an area used to present an argument, otherwise known as the fictional space. This is achieved through the narrative (that is presented traditionally in theatre through movement, gesture, and text). Multimedia has complexified this fictional space by expanding its location and being able to deliver multiple narratives within it. Multimedia has complexified the time and the space continuum of the narrative through its ability to present mediated images from the stage to the audience at the same time as traditional live performance. This challenges the definition of live performance.

The multimedia elements in the play are soundscapes, virtual characters composed of multimedia animations captured on pre-recorded digital video, and live video displays of performance. The world of the play exists in an augmented reality of the memories of the two main characters, Bev and Ben. The addition of multimedia assisted me as a playwright to present my idea of augmented reality in the world of the play, as well as a means of presenting the underpinning themes of the play being disassociation and recorded memory, violence as a means of control, and issues on change. Twentieth century theatre theorists, including Erwin Piscator and Bertolt Brecht, pioneered the use of multimedia in the theatre. In some way they contributed to a contemporary theatre that has evolved in tandem with multimedia. Correspondingly, multimedia requires its own skill sets and equipment and brings with it new aesthetic possibilities as well as becoming an agent of narrative. Multimedia creates opportunities for improvisation. This means that despite the pre-recorded nature of multimedia elements each presentation of multimedia that involves live actors can still create a unique performance experience. The exchange of touch is removed between virtual characters created by multimedia technology and live actors. At the same time the idea of live performance is challenged by the inclusion of multimedia elements. New audiences understand the narrative presented by multimedia because their world is filled with technologies that contain multimedia applications. Playwrights, who are aware of the spatial implications of multimedia, can utilise these new elements to create narratives to alter the structure of their work, and to create new ways of presenting characters, soundscapes and thematic digital displays to enhance and support the performance of their plays.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 16336
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Glover, Stuart & Scollen, Rebecca
Keywords: multimedia, playwrighting, soundscapes, space, spatiality, theatre, virtual characters
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Current > Schools > Journalism, Media & Communication
Department: Faculty of Creative Industries
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Pauline Sheldrake
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 04:01
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:46

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