Theater in the Digital Age
By Maxwell Granitz
Virtual reality on your mobile phone. Increasing dependence on technology. More users on social media than ever before. It is the digital age, and, really, has been since the beginning of the 21st century. Technology advances on us daily. In the year 2017, and the future, considering the above, and that criticism of the arts and calls for their defunding come from all sides, how can live theater truly enter the digital age, and remain a cornerstone of American and global culture(s)?
In 2011, the Menier Chocolate Factory, an independent nonprofit theater in London, known for producing new iterations of existing works, produced a modern interpretation of Stephen Schwartz’s Pippin. Drawing inspiration from the Tron films and incorporating lasers, projections and neon lights into the set, the title character’s Odyssean quest took place in a digital underground rather than the height of the Holy Roman Empire.
The Perelman Center for the Performing Arts is a planned building to be added to New York’s reborn and revitalized World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan. It is designed to be a cultural hub for the south end of Manhattan, with Broadway to the north in Midtown. It very well could be the birth of a new iteration of American theater, with Broadway remaining the hub of what is/will be ‘traditional theater’. This image shows what a typical performance at the Perelman could be like.