James Turnbull: The future of live entertainment

James Turnbull is the creative producer of #TOMtech
James Turnbull is the creative producer of #TOMtech

In live events, much of what we do hasn’t changed format in decades.

Theatre turns the lights down on the audience and up on the stage, musicians can hold the packed room on the end of a note, comedians regale us towards that unexpected punch line...

Each craft is based on sound principles of you, the audience, being largely passive observers – beyond a laugh, cry, dance or boo your role is to (hopefully) enjoy yourself as collective observers.

It’s what makes live events so unique and keeps us coming out for more. But how we consume entertainment has changed - technology is enabling us to have ever more individualised experiences (at home and out in the city) – and with that our traditional approach needs updating.

During Brighton Digital Festival, the TOMtech programme aims to challenge both artists and audiences to try news ways of experiencing live performance.

This month we have run labs that explored technology like motion capture, augmented reality and automation to see how they can redesign what a live performance can be.

For makers, it means forging new partnerships with industries beyond our usual silos and for audiences coming to see shows, it requires a willingness to try something new.

It is a steep learning curve for both but the possibilities to forge new mediums for culture (namely telling great stories, building a shared experience and creating moments of wonder) is vast and exciting.

The context of the festival gives us, as a cultural venue, extra confidence to push new ideas to the front and challenge the norms that performance has relied on for many long years.

We are able to invite technologists from the city’s vibrant digital scene to help us make a show more engaging, or bring expertise in from digital professionals to train artists how to work with new technology.

The current technology revolution will not be without its negative impacts and corporate greed will, I’m sure, take advantage of our liberties and privacy in ways we can’t even imagine.

There is not a lot an independent venue can do to stop that, but by giving our artists the tools they need to create, perhaps they can start to articulate the human impact of this incredible change as we face important questions of how we guide the evolution of humanity. And, given the state of the world at the moment, let’s hope they can also provide some much-needed escapism.

James Turnbull is the creative producer of #TOMtech which runs at The Old Market until October 13.

To see the full programme, visit: {http://www.theoldmarket.com/tomtech|www.theoldmarket.com/tomtech