Michael Billington wrote of how “we are now in an era when the gap between film and theatre, thanks to sophisticated technology, is constantly narrowing.” Filming live theatre has established a new hybrid medium. “The result is to democratise theatre. It’s not just that the performance can be seen worldwide. The key point is that everyone now has the best seat in the house.” The live aspect coupled with the advantage of close ups has meant an end to seating with restricted views. Consequently, every audience member is “the most privileged theatrical spectator”.
Billington professed: “While I remain an evangelist for live theatre, I think it’s time we stopped pretending that it offers an unreproducible event. A theatre performance can now be disseminated worldwide with astonishing fidelity. This represents…a revolution which knocks on the head the old argument that theatre is an elitist medium aimed at the privileged few.”
The emergence of this new form, as evidenced by the popularity of National Theatre Live and Digital Theatre, has rendered courses specialising only in one medium a risky investment. As discussed in last week’s blog, the importance of choosing the right drama school is paramount. Many make the mistake of dismissing Shakespeare as an irrelevance when considering the kind of training they wish to embark on. This is a precarious line of thought when King Lear is being screened in cinemas globally this month, thus disproving the perception that Shakespeare is strictly confined to the stage and of interest to only a particular type of audience.
In the same week, Sarah Crompton wrote of how Kevin Spacey’s performance in Clarence Darrow “makes a pressing case for the power of the monologue”. She laments how the monologue – “one of the most enticing and flexible forms” – has unfortunately become synonymous with “terrible fringe venues” and “actors who crave attention…with their solo shows” in Edinburgh.
The reason why the success rate of Audition Doctor’s students is so high is because their performances neither become attention-seeking nor introverted. The choices that students make in the sessions also mean that the auditions themselves become a place of experimentation. Far from falling into the trap of embodying the cliché of introspective self-indulgence, Audition Doctor’s students perform their monologues “seeming simultaneously to look at you and through you… It places everyone in intimacy with the performer, letting them eavesdrop on his private thoughts”.