How to support outdoor entertainment indoors
Live performances are possibly one of the first industries that were not involved with feeding or sheltering us. From the earliest cave paintings which some speculate were actually sites chosen for musical performances to the TikTok clip you watched today, humans have always sought to entertain. Those with the gift of storytelling transporting those who otherwise would never hear about distant places and grand adventures to balance a life of work and child-rearing.
From the most basic stories told around a campfire to the most elaborate stage productions ever staged (I am watching Aida performed at the Metropolitan Opera House as I write this), the history of the arts is as old as the history of humans.
Covid-19 though has forced many to draw the curtains and extinguish the stage lights, placing thousands in peril on a scale that rivals the epic plots of the best-known operas.
This is a small effort to acknowledge the contribution of the art world and encourage ways to watch and support their work until they can raise the curtain once again.
Before the world knew of Sars-Cov-2, the theatre world faced a challenge of a different sort, online entertainment, TV, radio and the gramophone before that have all threatened to diminish the starring role of live performances. I hope to explain though that each apparent threat actually helped grow the world of entertainment.
A brief history of performance
Until the 1880s and the invention of the gramophone (an early non-electric record player) all performances were live, wether spoken word, singing or instrumental if you wanted to hear you would need to go to an event or do it yourself.
Not only were venue sizes limited, but a performer’s voice also had to rely on the acoustics of the stage and theatre to be heard. The Greeks determined that an amphitheatre shape could allow thousands to hear one person speak.
The gramophone changed that. Now a popular performer could record their show on record and have it performed everywhere, whenever and as often as was needed. An industry that would support hundreds of sought after performers could now create superstars. Fewer successful performers, but those that did succeed were huge. Rather than drive people away from the industry, it attracted even more to take their shot at stardom. It was one of the first winner-take-all economies but would not be the last.
Radio could take recorded performances and distribute them to even more people. Microphones and speakers could allow one person to sound as loud as an entire choir.
Marlene Dietrich was able to make a version of the song Lili Marleen so popular with both her German and English versions that the track was a hit with soldiers across Europe and Africa despite them be locked in a World War, thanks to the song being broadcast to the troops and Dietrich’s performance of it.
Rather than fewer live performances, there were now even larger crowds hoping to attend a live performance of their favourite performers.
What radio did for singing, the movies and TV did for acting. While TV provided an easier alternative to attending live shows, it did not kill it as some feared but attracted even more hopefuls to enter the industry. Many did not make it and there certainly was a lot more competition, but the show went on and the industry grew.
Now with the rise of internet streaming especially on mobile devices, it appears all other forms will be relegated to a diminished status, their heyday over.
But rather than being a death knell, the internet may prove to be a lifeline. Offering the chance to watch great shows at a time when you can’t leave the house and still support the performers until they can return.
Potentially the special performances and access that has been made available now, will become a regular part for how to access and enjoy live performances in the future.
Here are some you can watch now.
5G or not 5G, that is the question. The Globe Theatre is the home of Shakespeare and you can watch their performance of Hamlet at the moment via YouTube.
Also from the UK, the National Theatre will stream Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre until the 16th of April
Over in New York, you can watch Aida as I did in full HD until the 12th from the Metropolitan Opera. There are many more that will be available free until 19 April.
Andrew Lloyd Webber will make a new production available each week for 48 hours, this week it is Jesus Christ Superstar.
VW and the Goliaths have created a streamed show called GoliathsGoLive which airs each day at 2 pm.
Savannah Cider has sponsored a virtual Comedy Bar starting on 9 April.
Music has also had to move online, not that it was not already, but for live shows which are all cancelled many artists have opted to do an impromptu performance and online collaborations.
But some have gone further The Grammy Museum is making parts of its catalogue available while the museum is shut down.
There is also
- The Museum of Modern Art
- Digital Theatre a service to hire or subscribe to theatre pieces
- The Bolshoi is streaming some of their ballet performances
- Cirque du Soleil is streaming many of their shows
- Marquee TV has a large selection of live performances available via subscription
- BroadwayHD is a great option for top US plays on subscription
- A list of musical events and DJ performances
- A listing of many of the items from the British Museum
- Andrea Bocelli performs in Milan on Sunday with a stream on YouTube
- The Guardian's list of museums open for virtual tours
This is not an attempt to replace live performances, but all venues know they have a physical capacity limit and the best-known venues know that most will not be able to travel to watch a show live.
Instead, like the gramophone over a century ago, it may allow the best performances to be seen all around the globe, first via online and on-screen, but the real innovation may come from improvements to the camera and projectors that will allow performances to be “screened” in theatre venues.
Musicians love performing live, but struggle to make all the venues that have adoring fans calling for them, a version featuring all the sound and stage set up with a holographic performance may be the solution. A version of this is already happening with holographic performances of Roy Orbison.
Having more live shows that are recorded and screened should allow it to both be more affordable and generate more revenue to support that venue’s own productions. I have been to watch a production of Hamlet at the Fugard Theatre with Benedict Cumberbatch and it offers a similar experience to watch a movie in a cinema rather than at home.
The revenue model will be tricky, often the vast audience with a near-zero marginal cost of distribution may seem like a great deal, but determining how artist royalties can be calculated and what amount the public would be willing to pay for a subscription or a particular performance which is compounded by just how much choice there is now will not make this an easy transition, but if or when a situation like this happens again, the live performance industry would want to be better prepared than it was now.
Source : https://www.pxfuel.com/en/free-photo-xdcgk
How to balance free speech with constructive engagement and manage it all as a business.Read More
A look at some of the shift predicted by TrendWatching that may take hold as a result of the impact of Covid-19 and the growing impact of climate change.Read More
One of the worst years this century did not stop some industries from having their best year yet.Read More
The headline relates to vaccine origins, this is about how close we are to a Covid-19 vaccine.Read More
500 million metric tons are produced a year, but environmental considerations are making alternatives look more attractiveRead More
At the moment, the IPO has been postponed, this is the story of how we got here.Read More
Will Donald Trump win again, the two men that correctly predicted it in 2016 weigh in on 2020Read More
The future of agriculture may draw more from its past than the presentRead More
Over 1000 MW of renewable energy will be added to the grid in the next year, we need a way to store it.Read More
Naptosa executive director Basil Manuel says they don't want last-minute announcements and cancellations from the minister.Read More
The Health Department reported that 441 more people had died after contracting the virus - with the death toll now at 31,809.Read More
The National Professional Teachers' Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) is worried the process might have to be interrupted.Read More
The country also recorded over 12,600 new infections.Read More
Public health lawyer Safura Abdool Karim says people must be cautious when accepting the admission of guilt fine.Read More
Human Rights Deputy Director Wayne Ncube explains the regulations in terms of wearing a mask in public.Read More
The infections have increased the number to 921, 922 since the start of the outbreak.Read More
The health ministry has also confirmed that 173 more people have died from the virus pushing the death toll to 22,747.Read More
Gauteng GP Collaboration member Dr Dan Israel says it is important for people to take personal responsibility to fight the virus.Read More
Doctors Without Borders Access campaign advocacy officer Candice Sehoma talks about the economics of vaccines during a pandemic.Read More