In “Digital Feelings,” guest co-editors Miriam Felton-Dansky and Jacob Gallagher-Ross investigate the emerging forms of affective experience engendered by digital technology, and theater artists’ strategic uses of these forms. How do we respond as live spectators to virtual pathos—and as virtual spectators to live pathos? The articles and performance pieces in this issue question the allure and disorientation of communication and affect in our digital age.
Topics in this issue include telegraph plays, live-streamed theater events, transmedia, and the impact of digital media and video recording on theater and performance criticism.
In recent years, technologies of production and communication have multiplied exponentially, creating new modes of expression and storytelling. The Internet and cell phones allow instantaneous communication across global networks; media communities like YouTube have created venues for amateur performances to reach global audiences; and the enforced brevity of Facebook status updates, Twitter posts, and text messages have created compressed, allusive idioms out of everyday speech. These and other rapid technological and cultural changes have transformed theater, the oldest of “old media.” “Digital Dramaturgies” assembles contributions by scholars and artists that explore this transformation, considering both theater’s place in a world conditioned by new media and the place of these new media in the theater. Tackling questions of what is considered live theater in a digital age and how new media will share the stage with more traditional forms of performance, this issue establishes theater as a unique medium and meeting place for other media as it moves irreversibly into the digital domain.
Contributors to this issue explore a variety of ways—from Twitter plays in 140 characters to performances from the Avatar Repertory Theater in Second Life to two computer chatbots “restaging” debates between Michel Foucault and Noam Chomsky—that new technology can perform.