Contextualizing Liveness

The Evolving Status of Live Performance in Europe

What makes a performance live, and how is liveness changing?
Picture of Contextualizing Liveness


What makes a performance live, and how is liveness changing? After the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a wave of digital theatre, the liveness of live performance has never been more contested. This lecture draws on Hawthorne’s doctoral thesis Contextualising Liveness: Digitally Distributed, Digitally Mediated and Digitally Located Theatre in Edinburgh and Berlin, 2017-19’ to discuss the historical role of liveness within theatre and performance studies and in the broader context of evolving digital media. It proposes a comparative, material approach to the analysis of liveness, and presents a series of case studies from across Europe (following Hawthorne’s 2023 European Theatre Convention study on digital theatre) to reveal how liveness can be shaped by both artistic and extra-theatrical factors, including funding landscapes and hierarchies of cultural value. Ultimately, this lecture argues that as new communication technologies continue to be created, modes of liveness in the theatre will continue to evolve.

**Katie Hawthorne ** is a researcher and writer based in Scotland. Katie completed her Ph.D. at the University of Edinburgh in 2022, with a thesis that explored how ’liveness’ in theatre and performance is evolving through the use of digital tools and technologies. She is an alumna of Theater Dortmund’s Academy for Theatre and Digitality’s fellowship programme. During her residency, she developed an installation project titled Automating the Audience. Since 2022 she has worked for the Academy on the creation of a new online research archive, due to be launched in Autumn 2023. Katie is the author of the first cross-European study Digital Theatre: Digital Strategies and Business Models in European Theatre (2023), commissioned by the European Theatre Convention and the Academy for Theatre and Digitality. She presented this research at the European Theatre Forum in Opole. Katie has also given papers at a host of international conferences and institutions, including the IFTR in Shanghai and TaPRA in Exeter, and authored a chapter on the Berliner Theatertreffen in the Edinburgh German Yearbook in 2021. Outside of academia, Katie is an accomplished freelance journalist and regularly contributes to publications including The Guardian and The Scotsman.

metaLAB is partnering with the Mahindra Humanities Center to sponsor the Transmedia Arts Seminar, chaired by metaLAB Principal Researcher, Magda Romanska, and an Affiliate, Ramona Mosse.