Sunday, November 21, 2010

Lazy Sunday # 146: The Future of Theatre & Maybe Everything Else


Earlier this weekend, LA based Canadian screenwriter Brent Piaskoski twittered a suggestion -- "I think more people in L.A. would go to plays if they called them live 3D movies".

I'm sure Mr. P was just joking around, but I also think there's a lot of truth in what he has to say. And I'm beginning to believe that a form of 3D might be about to transform not only theatre, but a lot of the other things now classed as "Live" entertainment.

Back in the fall of 1973, I was doing a play in London. The great part about that was I was onstage in the center of the English speaking theatre world.

The bad part was that because our show was playing at the same time as everything else in town, the chances of seeing another play were few and far between.

But one Saturday night, I managed to catch a late night performance of something just making a name for itself, "The Rocky Horror Show".

The pure theatricality of the piece, combined with its unbridled fun and the sense that I'd discovered something very hot before anybody else had me rushing our cast through the next Saturday night's show so they could all see it as well.

The Show was just as much fun the second time, but a couple of things were different. A new song had been added and one of the cast members had been replaced and as a result there were bumps that hadn't been there the first time around.

The show was the same -- but it wasn't…

The first thing you learn about any live performance is -- it's never exactly the same twice.

What's more, by the finite nature of "Tonight at 8:30" or "This venue can only accommodate (so many) patrons", a lot of people never get to see the shows or performers they'd really like to see live.

Or get to see them when they are at their creative peak.

Lately, movie theatres have begun screening digital feeds from New York's Metropolitan Opera or Britain's National Theatre or Wrestlemania, expanding the "live" audiences for those performances.

But it's still not like you're there and mostly feels the same as watching TV or a movie instead of being inside a legit theatre or sports arena.

Musical acts like U2 and Kenny Chesney have offered 3D concerts, but even then -- well, its still mostly a movie.

But what if…

What if you could see a play from London or New York or Stratford, Ontario in whichever city or town you now live and it would feel just like you were right there in the original theatre with the real actors right in front of you?

What if you could see U2 that way in any small town hockey arena? What if you could see "The Rolling Stones" -- not as they are now, but as they were during the Steel Wheels tour of 1989 or the Beatles from 1963?

All of that is about to become possible.

What you are about to see is a holographic CGI performer working with a live band on a concert stage in front of a live audience. Right now it's a virtual character. But the technology to record real people or replicate past performances is not that far off.

Live 3D Theatre and Concerts and Opera and Dance and maybe even sporting events. Can't get to the next Super Bowl? See it in the closest football stadium -- or maybe even your living room.

The options audiences would have with this technology are virtually endless.

Even if you don't understand Japanese, savor the possibilities and -- Enjoy your Sunday.

1 comment:

Rusty James said...


I had this dream this one time when I was dreaming, that I was in a virtual cinema and could view the film by looking ahead, over both shoulders, and across the room.

The film was structured in such a way that, depending on which side of the cinema you were on, made it necessary for multiple (or at least 2) viewings to get all the information - clues and such.

A similarly cool idea would be to follow one character, one time -- and then another character from the same movie, another time.

But that would take cool characters, wouldn't it?

And we all know how impossible that is...

effing Telefilm.