In September 2014, a local theatre company performed "the Tempest" simultaneously at two different locations to two separate audiences. Both audiences were linked together using an advanced video system, where several cameras captured the play. This is just one example of the radical shift in performing arts, where small theatre companies can use the Internet and a range of digital tools for reaching a wider remote audience. The question remains: what is the influence of this shift on the experience of the audience members? In order to better understand the problem space, we conducted two experiments focusing on two common current scenarios: remote asynchronous and synchronous watching of a theatre play. First, a theatre play was recorded and shown at a later date in a cinema to an audience. Second, a play in one theatre was broadcast to another theatre in real time. This paper reports the results of the experiments and discusses the implications towards the audience when bridging technology and performing arts. According to the results, a shift in time has a deep impact, with the audience rating their watching experience less intensive by 25% to the audience at the live venue. In the second experiment, on the other hand, both audiences reported fairly similar experiences, but different parts of the play had significant different impacts depending on the location where the audience was (in front of the stage or at another theatre). In particular it seems that lacking a way to show appreciation to the play e.g., applause has a big impact on the watching experience. The main conclusion though is that better mechanisms for including remote audiences in the experience are needed.

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Keywords Audience engagement, eTheatre, Galvanic Skin Response, Performing arts
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Conference 5th International Symposium of Chinese CHI, Chinese CHI 2017
Wang, C, Geelhoed, E, & Cesar Garcia, P.S. (2017). eTheatre: Connecting with the remote audiences. In ACM International Conference Proceeding Series (pp. 1–10). doi:10.1145/3080631.3080633