This article explores the tension between the announced transparency and the actual intermediality in the live broadcasts of Shakespeare stage productions by the Royal National Theatre (NT Live 2009-) and the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC Live 2013-). While often seen in terms of the practical achievements of reach and access, the broadcasts do not merely reproduce or transmit the stage production to the remote cinema audience, but rather adapt the stage productions on which they are based. I give attention to the process of making the livecasts to situate these intermedial adaptations in their material conditions of production. The apparent transparency obscures the significant creative and technical intervention that the broadcasts make in the live event. The fluent film grammar in the broadcasts, which offers the cinema audience a dynamic, shifting point of view, may account for a market research finding suggesting audiences for the broadcasts found them significantly more engaging than did audiences who saw the same stage production live in the theater. The broadcasts make a complex negotiation with liveness which depends in part on the conditions of reception. The cinema audience’s experience of liveness depends on the livecasting theater companies’ decision-making in determining the conditions of production and reception just as much as temporal co-presence with the live event.


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pp. 627-643
Launched on MUSE
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