from the big revision of the presentation to a write-up that took it in a quite different direction to now: a ground-up re-write. a scholarly work that builds an argument and from the theory offers provocations back to the practice. spoiler: smartphone screens. tl;dr: play your audience not your computers. put out there in a spirit of debate: all crit welcome!

Live Cinema is a contemporary performance practice built around audio-visual media. This essay questions the ‘live’ in Live Cinema, asking what Live Cinema events can tell us about liveness, and what liveness can tell us about the practice. Here’s why:

I’m at a Live Cinema event, but I’m troubled. This is an important moment: my collective has been invited to The School of Cinematic Arts, University of South California; the event is explicitly labelled a Live Cinema one. To my mind, Hollywood might just as well have said ‘hello Live Cinema’! Watching the opening performances, I see an audience rapt. Coming off stage after our performance, big cheers. But this audience… this audience appreciated the content, the staging, but what here was really live? The fact that I was behind a laptop screen pressing buttons? Moreover, I can’t help but feel the audience would have got a better show if we’d played out a recording of our rehearsal, and checked our email instead. Something is wrong here, and having taken on this label of Live Cinema, we owe ourselves and our audience an investigation.

This personal account of the author highlights that Live Cinema is gaining acceptance, is appreciated, but answering what that appreciation is for may not be straightforward. One thing is for sure: as a performance form whose ‘product’ is media and whose ‘draw’ is liveness, it should be an instructive study given an opposition of these two terms has shaped much of the literature on liveness.