Despite a shared history and many common present practices, the relationship between theatre and film often remains uncertain. Does a close study of film enrich an understanding of drama on the stage? What ongoing connections do theatre and film maintain, and what elements do they borrow from each other? Does the relative popularity and accessibility of film lead to an increased scholarly defensiveness about qualities exclusive to theatrical performances? Do theatre and film demand two different kinds of attention from spectators, or do audiences tend to experience both in the same ways? The essays in “Theatre Symposium: Volume 19” present this dynamic coexistence of theatre and film, and examine the nature of their mutual influence on each other.
Bruce McConachie, in his contribution to the collection, “Theatre and Film in Evolutionary Perspective,” argues that the cognitive functions used to interpret either media arise from the same evolutionary foundation, and that therefore the viewing experiences of theatre and film are closely linked to each other. In “Robert Edmond Jones: Theatre and Motion Pictures, Bridging Reality and Dreams,” Anthony Hostetter and Elisabeth Hostetter consider Jones’ influential vision of a “theater of the future,” in which traditional stage performances incorporate mediated video material into stage productions. Becky Becker’s “Nollywood: Film and Home Video, of the Death of Nigerian Theatre,” by focusing on the current conversation in Nigeria, discusses the anxiety generated by a film and video industry burgeoning into and displacing theatre culture
These and the six other essays in “Theatre Symposium: Volume 19” shed light on the current state of affairs—the collaborations and the tensions—between two distinctly individual yet inextricably related artistic media.