Around the Columns
Drama goes digital
Matt Saltzberg teaches a theater course about the intersection of technology and live performance. He is the Mizzou Advantage postdoctoral fellow for Disruptive and Transformational Technologies. Photo by Rob Hill
Shakespeare’s dictum that all the world is a stage has never been more true. In a digital, televised world, it’s hard to know where real life ends and reality TV begins. What’s even more daunting is determining how live performance fits into the mix.
Director Matt Saltzberg is on a quest to find out how live theater can stay relevant without losing the humanness that makes it unique, and he’s taking his students along for the ride.
Saltzberg, PhD ’11, is the Mizzou Advantage postdoctoral fellow for Disruptive and Transformational Technologies. The undergraduate course he designed will be offered through the theater, English and communications departments and the peace studies program.
“I’m interested in exploring the theater’s relationship with technology and how we can use technology in the theater without the theater becoming the technology,” Saltzberg says.
He is excited by recent technological innovations — such as projecting images onto the stage instead of building a set from three-dimensional materials — and he is eager to explore other creative approaches to digitalization.
The course will culminate in a multimedia performance combining new digital technology with more traditional modes of artistic expression.
“I believe that the body itself is a form of technology, too,” Saltzberg says.
His classes delve into how actors can use body language and spatial positioning of props and people to communicate with the audience in ways that set theater apart from big-budget movies, reality TV, YouTube and a sea of other media.
Saltzberg is one of five postdoctoral fellows representing each of the interdisciplinary Mizzou Advantage areas. Others are:
- Food for the Future — Lisa Rees, BS ’06, MS ’09, PhD ’11 in agriculture
- Sustainable Energy — Lanika Ruzhitskaya, MS ’03, EdSp ’05, PhD ’11 in information science and learning technologies
- Media of the Future — Jeffrey Delbert, PhD ’11 in communication
- One Health/One Medicine — Vu Nguyen, BS HES ’05, M Ed ’06, PhD ’11 in health education and promotion