Theatre and film are intimately related representational media. In both, actors embody fictional characters to convey narratives. At the same time, as both practitioners and theorists have long recognized, there are profound ontological, phenomenological, and structural differences between them. One of the most significant and least explored of these differences is that theatre and film conventionally engage radically different modes of representation. The film is primarily a pictorial medium. Theatre, by contrast, is a ludic medium, that is to say, a medium rooted in the spirit of play and make-believe. This lecture will clarify this distinction and its significance, and explore the special challenges and opportunities it presents to artists who produce work that combines flesh-and-blood performers and physical spaces with video, including media-enhanced theatre and augmented reality projects.
David Saltz is a specialist in modernist theatre and performance, performance theory, the philosophy of art, and directing. His primary research focuses have been performance philosophy and the interaction between live performance and digital media. He was Principal Investigator of Virtual Vaudeville, a large-scale research project funded by the National Science Foundation to simulate a nineteenth-century vaudeville performance on the computer. He has explored the use of computer technology extensively in his own work as a director and teacher. Along those lines he established the Interactive Performance Laboratory at UGA, has directed a series of productions incorporating real-time interactive digital media, and has created interactive sculptural installations that have been exhibited nationally. He is co-director for the NEH Institute on Digital Technologies in Theatre and Performance Studies (His recent work focuses on robotic theatre. He is co-author (with Sarah Bay-Cheng and Jennifer Parker-Starbuck) of Performance and Media: Taxonomies for a Changing Field (University of Michigan Press, 2015), coeditor (with David Krasner) of the book Staging Philosophy: Intersections between Theatre, Performance and Philosophy (University of Michigan Press, 2006), coeditor (with Martin Kagel) of* Open Wounds: Holocaust Theater and the Legacy of George Tabori* (University of Michigan Press, 2022), and has published numerous articles in scholarly journals and books.