If ever there was an industry ripe for disruption – it’s the theatuh.
Antiquated business models, pre electronic mindsets (don’t you DARE take a photo!) and calcified, pound-of-flesh unions all combine to make this live performance art a sometimes fraught affair in the US.
But that could be changing. Years after NT Live showed the huge potential of live broadcast, similar digital stirrings are afoot at BroadwayHD. It’s kind of like Netflix for theatre. And you can watch both live and archived shows.
There will no doubt be some shrieks of horror from the purple beret-wearing crowd. Heavens! But this is a great development. I would much rather watch a great version of JERUSALEM or SWEAT or AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY at one of America’s great theatres on screen than another forgettable regional production of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST etc. (pack a NoDoz) live in the flesh.
It’s about time. And for theatres thinking ahead – you want to be a publisher. You, as a Portland theatre, want to create content so compelling that audience members around the world will pay to watch it on screen.
The bad news: If you’re the artistic equivalent of Olive Garden, offering the same standard menu as any other theatre in the sticks, demand for your product is going down. If I can stay home and watch hundreds of great live captured productions from around the world, what are the chances I’m going to go to the trouble of going out to see – Bad Dates?? Zip.
The future is now. If you want to check out the new world, BroadwayHD is doing a broadcast of three new serial plays by Richard Nelson, three nights in a row this week, live from New York’s Public Theater.
Now that’s some pretty cool drama right there.