The Playgoer: "Internet Dramaturgy"

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Friday, January 08, 2010

"Internet Dramaturgy"

No, not just "phoning in" your script notes via Twitter.

From Tom Sellar's must-read Village Voice summation of NY avant-garde theatre in the "aughts":

SOS [by Big Art Group] points to a category of experiment under way in alternative theater, which might be described as Internet dramaturgy: live performances structured around nonlinear associations, a continual or escalating series of non sequiturs, or constantly regenerated narrative frames. These dramatic forms echo our now-daily experiences of clicking through multiple sites and toggling between realities. Stage compositions increasingly reflect structures and patterns from the Web, a development ripe with potential.

The admirably arty Radiohole could also be included in this web-of-consciousness heading, with company-devised pieces full of visuals and free association.
I think he's onto something, no? Not necessarily that this theatrical style comes from the internet, but that both the technology and the aesthetic are deriving from the same (to use the Raymond Williams phrase) "structure of feeling" in the culture, perhaps.

Another good point of Sellar's:
If New York wants to stay in the theatrical vanguard, it must encourage and embolden progressive artists to try projects that aren't strictly outcome-driven. Theatermakers' creative evolution may be stunted, however, by the city's notoriously conservative infrastructure. Few theaters or arts organizations commission or present experimental work on a large scale; even well-curated performance series, which could supply intellectual fiber and expand public tastes, remain rare.
I highlight that bit about an inherently conservative (i.e. profit-driven) infrastructure because what he really means is that the difference between New York and an actual hub of the avant garde theatre like Berlin is that there, in Europe, it is not unheard of to throw a lot of money at a production even if it has no promise of selling tickets. In other words, the have a fund set aside just for, you know, art.

And while I don't expect our municipal or federal governments (especially in times like these) to make available such moneys, one would hope that at least some of the few enlightened philanthropists left might devote themselves to such causes.

1 comment:

August Schulenburg said...

This is something I talked about in October on the Flux blog, though I think search engine dramaturgy is more deliberative than free association and non-sequitor, which seem to belong more to Dada than Google. The juxtaposition of joggling between the narrative frames is the key, and I think Jason Grote's 1001 is the best example. In case you're curious, the link is here: