Old plays, new narratives: fan production of new media texts from broadcast theatre
- Publisher: University of Toronto
When a theatrical performance is digitally broadcast live to cinemas, the limitations of temporal and spatial specificity are removed and the theatrical experience is simultaneously opened up to a wider audience and inherently altered. One such production, Coriolanus (Donmar Warehouse, 2013-14), starring an actor with a particularly enthusiastic online fan community, was broadcast to cinemas by National Theatre Live where fans recorded it on digital devices, extracted clips and produced animated gifs, which they captioned to reinterpret the play, sharing them online, removed from their original context. The transformation of theatre texts to cinemas to social media platforms raises exciting questions related to how fans interact with culture both as consumers and as producers of new media texts. How do the different transformations (technical and actively fan-produced) affect both the narrative and the cultural experience? How do new texts function as surrogates for, and extensions of, the ‘official’ narrative, as well as new interactive narratives in their own right? This paper addresses these questions in the context of as specific theatrical event as it crossed the boundary from a live, co-located experience into first cinema, then interactive hypertexts and memes. Drawing on theories of fandom and participatory culture, as well as post Web 2.0 analysis of Internet behaviours, the paper examines fan production of new media texts and how they both transmit and transform the source narrative via interpretation, re-interpretation, and misinterpretation.
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