Live Media: Interactive Media and Theatre Summary

In Live Media: Interactive Media and Theatre SummarySatlz’s describes the role of live media in theatre, the classical western performance of scripted interactive plays.  Highlighting experience from his own productions, Satlz emphasizes the need for fluid and forgiving forms of technology to interact with live performances.  Enumerating a taxonomy of relationships between performers and media, Satltz concludes with an example of interactions from The Tempest.


An example of played media from Hair.

Musical instruments are forms of interactive media devices.  Newer technologies for playing, synthesizing, and manipulating media in realtime help complement the improvisational spirit of performance.  In the IPL production of Hair, the productions crew mapped a library of images, sounds, and video keyboard keys using MIDI.  This media instrument transfered the immediacy and spontaneous nature of improv on to the stage.   A similar MIDI triggered approach is used in The Tempest to change backgrounds and manipulate the set.

Saltz’s taxonomy provides a foundation for thinking about interactions between human and technological performers.

  • Virtual Scenery – serves as a background, which may be interactive or passive.
  • Interactive Costumes – costumes with sensors, lights, or other dynamic aspects.
  • Alternate Perspective – depicts a new perspective in a narrative.
  • Subjective Perspective – shows a view of thoughts or gives insights into a character’s perception.
  • Illustration – shows an illustration of a performers words.
  • Commentary – supporting evidence in parallel with the overall narrative of a performance.
  • Diegetic Media – media that exists within the world of the performance, such as a radio character listen to.
  • Affective Media – media designed to change the audience’s emotional state.
  • Synesthesia – remediates one kind of sense into a different modality.
  • Instrumental Media – technology that creates an instrument from performer actions.
  • Virtual Puppetry – technology that acts a character in a performance, usually controlled by a performer.

Saltz concludes by stating that his ultimate goal is to create performances that have dramatic relationships between media and performers, to the extent that media has as much as a role as performers do.  This goal is now within reach.

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