Matt Trueman on Liveness

Tuesday 20th October 2009

Critic Matt Trueman
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It’s not often that high-powered academic books make for good theatre blogs, but Matt Trueman’s account of reading Philip Auslander’s Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture on the Guardian blog is thought-provoking, as are the comments on it. Like the idea of “audiences”, the notion of “liveness” seems to be both integral to any definition of theatre, and one of those ideas that threatens to become mystical simply because it’s so vague. But while it is true that we tend to think of the live and the recorded as diametrically opposite, it is equally clear that theatre has always engaged with technology: wasn’t the mask originally a piece of tech? Not to mention the dieux ex machina machines, the flying scenery and electric lights… Perhaps it’s worth considering that just as there are different kinds of audiences, and not just one monolithic audience (“the audience”), so there are also different kinds of “liveness”.

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