Mormonism in 140 characters: marketing liveness in cyberspace (and back again)

Rush, Adam (2015) Mormonism in 140 characters: marketing liveness in cyberspace (and back again). In: TaPRA Postgraduate Symposium 2015, 7th February 2015, University of Manchester.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


Peggy Phelan claims that “performance’s only life is in the present”; once documented it becomes something other than a performance. Although her statement has since been challenged by Philip Auslander, among other performance scholars, there remains a problematic relationship between the ephemerality of live performance and tangibility of mass media and the Internet. Whilst merchandise offers an extension of the theatrical event, few productions have sought to capture the affects of liveness within their marketing. The poster campaign behind hit musical, The Book of Mormon (2013), however, is constructed from past audience’s tweets. In leaving the theatre, audiences are encouraged to celebrate the subversive production on Twitter, seeing, in turn, their reactions spread across the posters which dominate London and New York’s theatre districts. As a result, musical theatre fandom is no longer restricted to bedroom walls, but online platforms which allow fans to be a part of the image-making process. As such, this paper questions the role of the audience in the construction of theatrical marketing. In diversifying the sociability of advertising, musical theatre (the local) can expand an audience’s presumed agency, and their importance as critics, through social media platforms (the global). By having their tweets plastered on billboards, audiences progress from passive spectator, who see a play and leave again, to active fan. Whilst, for Phelan, ephemerality is the greatest strength of live performance, the utilisation of digital platforms is extending, quite radically, our relationship with the live.

Keywords:Musical Theatre, Intertextuality, Social Media
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W400 Drama
W Creative Arts and Design > W300 Music
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Performing Arts)
ID Code:19992
Deposited On:12 Jan 2016 10:51

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