Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Digital Theatre

Digital Theatre has grown to become the world's biggest on demand platform specializing in delivering arts content. With a simple and straightforward objective to make arts accessible regardless of geographical, social or economic boundaries, the team at Digital Theatre have filmed, acquired and distributed the very best in captured live entertainment.
Finding the 'right' show for a class to experience can be a difficult undertaking at times. Theatre companies are going out of their way to make the process of selecting a suitable show as easy as possible, generally extending their production information to include content advice, suitability and connections to the curriculum. You can go to shows, shows can come to you, there are plenty of options available. Sometimes, however, the right show just isn't programmed or isn't available or the timing isn't right or you're unable to make a booking or it is too expensive.

This year I had an opportunity to try out Digital Theatre, a British-based service providing on-demand arts content. With an ever-expanding library covering Shakespeare, Classics, New Writing, Musicals, Ballet, Opera and Documentary, there is plenty of shows to choose from.

My experience of recorded live performance is limited to deBASE productions' the Clown from Snowy River and The Escapists' Boy Girl Wall, with both packages including educational resources as part of the package. Both are excellent and I would highly recommend them, however, neither of these productions were suitable for my requirements so I turned to Digital Theatre, a site that I discovered via thedramateacher.com in 2011.

The most striking thing about the recorded productions I have viewed, The Container and Lovesong, is how the energy of the live performance is captured and communicated. These are unquestionably live performances - you can occasionally hear or see the audience - but the quality of the recording, camera placement, editing and other elements associated with reproducing the experience for the screen have been given their due consideration. The result is that the recorded production becomes a work of art in its own right, carefully crafted to provide maximum engagement.

From a teaching perspective, the opportunity to preview a show is invaluable. Many theatre companies offer complimentary tickets for teachers prior to their group bookings so they may see the show in advance. If a show turns out to be unsuitable, however, it could be very difficult to make alternative arrangements. Digital Theatre provides teacher with an opportunity to preview a show at their leisure, potentially in the comfort of their own home or over the course of several days. While Digital Theatre has basic production information and reviews for each listing, some of the original production companies maintain extensive resources and education packs.

With the option to rent or buy it is a very affordable method of experiencing some of the best that theatre has to offer without leaving home (or your classroom). Far from replacing the live experience, it may just inspire you to get out there and see it in the flesh. It certainly has for me.

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