Live from….: Shakespeare and Livecast Cinema
Free Public Lecture
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Livecast cinema is a relatively new area of theatrical, broadcast and cinematic practice. Through this new and global practice, audiences are changed, concepts of the ontology of theatre and cinema are challenged and definitions of liveness expanded. Through the prevalence of livecast cinema programming, a significant shift is underway in how we configure cinema and theatre, presence and absence and the idea of a shared audience experience. This is both a market and a medium on the move.
But it is a practice that as yet lacks a critical framework, or shared lexicon, within which it can be discussed. And it also lacks a history. Present practices and aspirations have not emerged from nowhere – either technologically or in terms of the cultural impulses that underlie them. Current practice is, in fact, trailing a history of filmed theatre and broadcast theatre. And, throughout this history, Shakespeare has been at the vanguard of creating the market appetite and inspiring the technology that has made this possible.
In this discussion, in the context of a broader consideration of livecast Shakespearean cinema, Judith Buchanan considers a high-profile Broadway stage production of Hamlet from 1964 starring Richard Burton, the film that was made of it and the synchronized screenings of this film that ambitiously attempted to evoke in a recorded medium something of the evanescent properties of theatre. What impulses were driving the trail-blazing mode of exhibition for this work of ‘theatrofilm’? What were its precedents and to what use has the production since been put?
Judith has recently embarked on a book project on Shakespeare and livecast cinema, jointly with John Wyver (Director of Screen Productions at the Royal Shakespeare Company). Following her presentation, she would be particularly interested to hear audience reports of the experience of attending live broadcasts of works of theatre.
Professor Judith Buchanan is Director of the Humanities Research Centre at the University of York and Professor of Film and Literature in the Department of English and Related Literature. She writes widely on Shakespearean performance histories and is the Director of ‘Silents Now’ (silents-now.co.uk). She is the author of Shakespeare on Silent Film: An Excellent Dumb Discourse (2009 & 2011), Shakespeare on Film (2005) and Shakespeare’s Late Plays (2001). She is editor of a special issue of Shakespeare (2007) and of The Writer on Film: Screening Literary Authorship (2013). She co-wrote, and is Shakespeare Advisor for, the forthcoming GSP feature film of Macbeth and is co-Director of the York International Shakespeare Festival.