Research Output
Recorded performance as digital content: Perspectives from Fringe 2020
  Within days of performance venues being forced to close their doors in 2020, the National Theatre began broadcasting high-quality recordings of the best of London’s West End. Few other companies could dream of having such rich recorded archives to draw upon. Indeed, for many artists there is a clear tension in the very idea of recording work that is intended to be experienced live. This chapter reports on 20 in-depth interviews with performers and theatre-makers who had planned to bring shows to the 2020 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It explores how performers responded to the prolonged closure of venues and developed a series of strategies to generate value from recordings, even with limited production budgets. Crucially, very few opted to record whole live shows in empty theatres – instead they found specific uses and rationales for recording performance, while developing new expertise with sharing recorded media on digital platforms. We argue that these digitally mediated performances are distinct from other forms of film or ‘live-to-digital’ theatre. Indeed, we suggest that this emerging genre of record will persist beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and points to new opportunities in recording, broadcasting, and archiving performing arts as digital content.

  • Date:

    15 December 2021

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  • Funders:

    AHRC Arts & Humanities Research Council


Elsden, C., Yu, D., Piccio, B., Helgason, I., & Terras, M. (2021). Recorded performance as digital content: Perspectives from Fringe 2020. In L. Bissell, & L. Weir (Eds.), Performance in a Pandemic. London: Routledge.


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