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Strictly, digital theatre is a hybrid art form, gaining strength from theatre’s ability to facilitate the imagination and create human connections and digital technology’s ability to extend the reach of communication and visualization. (However, the phrase is also used in a more generic sense by companies such as Evans and Sutherland to refer to their fulldome projection technology products.)
Digital theatre is primarily identified by the coexistence of “live” performers and digital media in the same unbroken(1) space with a co-present audience. In addition to the necessity that its performance must be simultaneously “live” and digital, the event’s secondary characteristics are that its content should retain some recognizable theatre roles (through limiting the level of interactivity) and a narrative element of spoken language or text. The four conditions of digital theatre are:
A brief clarification of these terms in relation to digital theatre is in order. The significance of the terms “live” or “liveness” as they occur in theatre can not be over-emphasized, as it is set in opposition to digital in order to indicate the presence of both types of communication, human and computer-created. Rather than considering the real-time or temporality of events, digital theatre concerns the interactions of people (audience and actors) sharing the same physical space (in at least one location, if multiple audiences exist). In the case of mass broadcast, it is essential that this sharing of public space occurs at the site of the primary artistic event.(6) The next necessary condition for creating digital theatre is the presence of digital media in the performance. Digital media is not defined through the presence of one type of technology hardware or software configuration, but by its characteristics of being flexible, mutable, easily adapted, and able to be processed in real-time. It is the ability to change not only sound and light, but also images, video, animation, and other content into triggered, manipulated, and reconstituted data which is relayed or transmitted in relation to other impulses which defines the essential nature of the digital format. Digital information has the quality of pure computational potential, which can be seen as parallel to the potential of human imagination.
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