Theatre, social media and spectatorship : translating commentary, critique and controversy across media

Hadley, Bree J. (2013) Theatre, social media and spectatorship : translating commentary, critique and controversy across media. In Staging Changes : Translation as Innovation and Intervention, Australasian Association for Theatre, Drama & Performance Studies (ADSA 2013), 9-12 July 2013, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

The occasional ArtsHub article asking spectators to show respect for stage by switching all devices off notwithstanding, in the last few years we have witnessed an clear push to make more use of social media as a means by which spectators might respond to a performance across most theatre companies. Mainstage companies, as well as contemporary companies are asking us to turn on, tune in and tweet our impressions of a show to them, to each other, and to the masses – sometimes during the show, sometimes after the show, and sometimes without having seen the show. In this paper, I investigate the relationship between theatre, spectatorship and social media, tracing the transition from print platforms in which expert critics were responsible for determining audience response to today’s online platforms in which everybody is responsible for debating responses. Is the tendency to invite spectators to comment via social media before, during, or after a show the advance in audience engagement, entertainment and empowerment many hail it to be? Is it a return to a more democratised past in which theatres were active, interactive and at times downright rowdy, and the word of the published critic had yet to take over from the word of the average punter? Is it delivering distinctive shifts in theatre and theatrical meaning making? Or is it simply a good way to get spectators to write about a work they are no longer watching? An advance in the marketing of the work rather than an advance in the active, interactive aesthetic of the work? In this paper, I consider what the performance of spectatorship on social media tells us about theatre, spectatorship and meaning-making. I use initial findings about the distinctive dramaturgies, conflicts and powerplays that characterise debates about performance and performance culture on social media to reflect on the potentially productive relationship between theatre, social media, spectatorship, and meaning making. I suggest that the distinctive patterns of engagement displayed on social media platforms – including, in many cases, remediation rather than translation, adaptation or transformation of prior engagement practices – have a lot to tell us about how spectators and spectator groups negotiate for the power to provide the dominant interpretation of a work.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 67937
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: No
Keywords: Theatre, Social Media, Spectatorship, Critics & Criticism
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > PERFORMING ARTS AND CREATIVE WRITING (190400)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA STUDIES (200100)
Divisions: Current > Schools > Drama
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Past > Institutes > Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 Bree Hadley
Deposited On: 03 Mar 2014 02:00
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2014 17:21

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