Audience-generated traces: audience experience in performance documentation

PhD Thesis

Kolokythopoulou, G. (2020). Audience-generated traces: audience experience in performance documentation. PhD Thesis London South Bank University School of Arts and Creative Industries
AuthorsKolokythopoulou, G.
TypePhD Thesis

This thesis explores whether and how audience-generated content produced from and about audiences’ experience and during and as part of a live performance might become part of a theatre and performance work’s archive. It sets out to examine both the challenges as well as the documentational opportunities that this material might afford.
The thesis is influenced by Gabriella Giannachi’s articulation of digital technologies as archival interfaces and Sarah Bay-Cheng’s convergence of live performance and documentation. It examines the function of audience-generated content during three case studies and postulates that audiences can be regarded as co-producers of performance documents. To do so, it analyses how Speak Bitterness by Forced Entertainment, Karen by Blast Theory, and Flatland by Extant request that their audiences activate the live performance or augment its experience by using a digital technology, and how by doing so they leave digital traces behind.
Building upon this condition the thesis interrogates how the three company casestudies archive these works’ audience-generated traces. In addition, it investigates how digital traces are perceived by institutional theatre and performance collections. Through interviews with the case-study practitioners, the curator of the British Library Sound Archive and the archivists of the National Theatre and Victoria and Albert Museum the thesis reveals a set of technical and organisational challenges involved in this process. Although audience-generated traces are considered valuable marketing and research material they also unsettle established notions and structures of performance documentation and its archive. Rethinking the established notion of the performance document and the form of files through which it conveys knowledge, the thesis returns to Ricoeur’s theory of the trace so as to expand ideas of how performance documentation enables ways of knowing a past performance. It argues that, as direct remnants of the live performance moment originating in the participant, audiencegenerated content offers solutions to ‘presencing’ the audience in documentation and novel ways for revisiting a past performance work from within its unfolding.

PublisherLondon South Bank University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
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Publication dates
Print13 Jul 2020
Publication process dates
Deposited26 Jul 2023
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