Interactivity between the mediated and the human on the theatrical stage is well documented; less critiqued is the interactivity available to live mediated elements, and the mechanisms of its production. Founded in theatre studies, computer human-interaction (CHI) studies, new media studies and studies in presence this thesis aims to extend our dramaturgical understandings of the mechanics of interactivity between live integrated digital and human entities on stage through the lens of co-presence. It prefaces the extended experiences available for audiences of integrated multimedia performance in the face of Peggy Phelan’s call for an “ontologically unique performance event” (146).
In order to negotiate the relationship between the digital and the human, I ask how one balances the liveness and nuance of live performance, with the preparedness of choreography, computer programming and cue building in stage based performance with live multimedia elements. Focusing on the mediated image as embodied agent, this study advocates a series of processes by which a live multimedia image operates in an interactive relationship with its human co-performers: integrated into the fabric of the performance; developed and implemented in a real-time interactive system; actively contributing to the dramaturgical development of the production; engaged in each performative moment with nuance, intimacy and spontaneity; and developed with a balance of liveness and preparedness.
Using co-presence as a lens to analyse The Table of Knowledge (2011) by version 1.0 and Encoded (2012) by Stalker dance theatre this thesis will consider how multimedia images interacted with the humans on stage in each performative moment. In Chapter Two I argue that in The Table of Knowledge, the mediated images on stage are ‘agents’ which exist in a mutually accessible, interactive relationship with their human co-performers. Building on my findings in Chapter Two, I contend in Chapter Three that the human bodies in Encoded are in collaboration with the mediated images, resulting in these images interacting with the humans as ‘embodied’ entities. By deepening our understanding of interactivity in the relationships between the digital and human in our mediatised society, this thesis scrutinises the ongoing dramaturgical implications of multimedia performance for theatre scholars, practitioners and audiences.