Compositional strategies for pervasive performance

Cameron-Lewis, Laura (2011) Compositional strategies for pervasive performance. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, this thesis is not available in this service.


I have defined the term ‘pervasive performance’ to apply to an emerging form of artistic cultural production which blends aspects of theatre, site-specific art, and game play to create an immersive participatory experience. Pervasive: because the parameters for the performance extend beyond the conventional time frame for a theatre performance so that ‘showtime’ pervades beyond hours, extending into days, weeks, even months. Pervasive: because the performance extends from the stage or screen so that the performance arena becomes the real world of the daily lives of its audience.

A central feature to pervasive performance is the overlapping (or erasure) of boundaries between media and their attendant conventions. Observers become participants, or players, and the ‘play’ is itself a world of play where reality blends with the fictional. A ‘mixed’ reality performance space is established because the performance space extends: into private homes, into the public domain of streets outside, and into the virtual world of internet hubs and social networks. The diegetic landscape of the performance as the world of the play is present in three places simultaneously: manifest reality, the hi-tech networked ‘virtual’ space, and the virtual playground of the imagination.

Other terms for cultural practices, which overlap with this form, include ‘Pervasive Gaming’, ‘Multimedia Interactive Theatre Experience’ and ‘Augmented Reality Game’. Each indicates a slight variation on the spectrum from computer game to theatre performance, though all denote a form of play, which extends into the daily lives of its participants. This extension takes place on both spatial and temporal axes - often using the pervasiveness of communicative technologies, such as mobile phones and internet hubs, to telematically transmit the performance ‘text’.

Using my own practice, compositional analysis, and first-hand observations of performance works by Blast Theory, this study explores the design problem inherent in a participative artwork which needs to balance both the end-participant’s desire for plot-driven narrative or action, with the freedom to make autonomous choices in the world of the performance. Questioning the mutuality of these two different dramaturgical challenges, I will assess the compositional structures and implications of agency in ‘pervasive narrative’.

Challenging representations and embodiments of locality and identity, the ‘pervasive performance’ form operates through politically charged processes, thus contaminating discourse (Giannachi, 2007, p.49) and preventing a positivist critical analysis. This study aims to uncover these processes, the compositional structures they might inhabit and the extent to which this form can be considered ‘interactive’. Whether a dramaturgy of pervasive performance implies a process of ‘control’ or whether its ‘interactivity’ presents a real possibility for ‘freedom’ will be explored in this thesis.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Additional Information: No print version is available for this thesis.
Keywords: Pervasive, Performance, Theatre, Site-specific, dramaturgy, game, multimedia, augmented reality, digital performance, virtual theatre, virtual performance, augmented reality game, augmented reality gaming, (g)local
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Supervisor's Name: Heddon, Dr. Deidre
Date of Award: 2011
Depositing User: Mrs Laura Cameron-Lewis
Unique ID: glathesis:2011-3330
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Aug 2015 14:59
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2015 14:59

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