Killing the Modern Theatre: A New Medium to Augment Stage Performances

Richard Lee Buckner


Papernumber: 3386-11628-1-SM.docx

Killing the Modern Theatre: A New Medium to Augment Stage Performances

Richard Buckner

1214 Calle Violeta, Thousand Oaks, CA, USA,


Paul Simon, in "The Dangling Conversation," asked "Is the theatre really dead?" Yes, traditional theatre of the literary, mechanistic age is. Consequently, the play script and its format are dead because we have moved to the electrical, electronic, digital (EED) age and theatre is no longer just humans on a stage delivering dialogue, action and possibly song with realistic or even impressionistic sets. This paper shows how Electronic Digital Displayed Script With Embedded Multi-Media (EDDSWEMM), in a way, acts as a "Bridge Over Troubled Water" from the new EED age to the old literary age.

In fact, the whole of society has changed, and theatre needs to follow. Marshall McLuhan, the Toronto philosopher, stated that the societal impact of a new medium is far greater than its content. And, that a new medium requires a new form; it opens doors for new content that includes the content of the old print media. A crisis is that changing a play script format for any reason is tantamount to professional suicide.

This paper follows up on my 2017 presentation at ISSS in Vienna, Austria, of "MS Windows Productivity Research Applied to Theatre"--a peer reviewed paper that lays a scientific foundation for projecting an electronic, digital script with embedded multimedia. It showed how the construct "Viewability," that I named, applies to theatre and script projection. Projection is a form of display of information. Drama displays, by human dialogue and action, the information in a script. Microsoft Word is used to write a script, and by means of Object Linking and Embedding (OLE), visual multimedia--represented by icons--may be embedded in the script.  Display may be initiated by double clicking on icons in the text. Similarly, sound may be embedded and "played" by double clicking on music icons. In the interest of increased Viewability, non executable production cues may add additional information to the script. Stage drama is synchronized with the projected script.

The resulting script, displayed on a monitor, also acts as a new digital-literary genre for the individual reader or actor rehearsing at home. Its presentation lies somewhere between the old, formatted as for a typewriter, literary based paper script and a traditional full production augmented by EDDSWEMM.

This paper shows that there are many reasons for EDDSWEEM forecast by McLuhan's follow up and popularization of Understanding Media ... in a subsequent book, The Medium is the Massage ... . I identify additional reasons such as the obvious advantage to the deaf. McLuhan did not extensively treat theatre as a medium for communication.

I review the Dramatists Guild modern play script format and show that it is part and parcel of the old literary/mechanical age. My proposed new EDDSWEMM format includes the content of the old (sacred) script format. The possibilities of additional content using EDDSWEMM are wide open. Risk aversive producers and theatres often look for tried and true literary works to ensure a gate, but if they want something new and are to survive, they will have to provide material that bridges EED to the old age. Directors, playwrights and audiences are always looking for new material but are locked into the old format; projection at least provides a reason to begin delivering dramatic material in new ways.

Visualization, in this paper, is by projection of this paper.

EDDSWEMM requires technical resources that exceed those that Microsoft currently provides for document production. Hopefully, this problem will be resolved as part of future research and can be reported in the next ISSS conference.

I would like to dedicate this paper to Harrison Holmes Cochran, without whose interest, encouragement and kindness I would have never made it to this point.


Social Change; New Medium; Theatre; Playwrighting

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