The Playgoer: HiDef Theatre Jam

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Friday, November 07, 2008

HiDef Theatre Jam

Can theatres use the Met-model of HiDef videocasting to beam performances to a wider audience?

This, of course, is what the Metropolitan Opera has pioneered over the last few seasons with their highly successful simulcasts of live performances in movie theatres around the country.

Kudos to Canada's Stratford Festival for being the first to take up the challenge.

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival's Christopher Plummer-led production of Caesar and Cleopatra is coming soon to large and small screens...

The festival's separate agreements, with Cineplex and CTV-Bravo!, will see a film version of the stage production - shot on the Festival Theatre stage in Stratford, Ont. - premiere at one-night "gala-type" screenings in as many as 80 Cineplex theatres across Canada, drawing on New York's Metropolitan Opera model of broadcasting opera in cinemas worldwide (although unlike the Met model, the film will not be a real-time, live broadcast of a stage performance). The film will also air nationwide on Bravo!

The deals attempt to find a new model for bringing the performing arts to a wider audience through broadcast media, while preserving Canada's memorable theatrical moments. They have been constructed via a complex web of multiple-source spending, revenue-sharing and tax-credit advantages to juggle the project's substantial costs.

Note the role of government subsidy in helping along this project by a national flagship theatre company. Also note: that's the Canadian Bravo, not the thing on US cable listing posing as a "culture" channel. (Or do they even bother anymore?)

If I were Oskar Eustis, I'd get right on this for next summer's Delacorte shows, especially if he's planning another Meryl Streep star turn no one can get into. I think that would be a fitting kind of event for this. Of course, he'd have to get it past Equity...

Meanwhile, back the Met they're already onto version 2.0: live streaming opera, in your home!

2 comments:

Andrew said...

The future lies in CNN-style holograms. Just imagine a fuzzy blue 4-foot version of Meryl Streep in your own living room. Doing cartwheels, no less!

Anonymous said...

My very thought - but I was imagining holograms of Garrick and Bernhardt and Burbage . . . Why not?!!