Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Throughout the 20th century, mediatized forms gained prominence and eclipsed the theater as a site of cultural power and popularity. Because of this tension, performance theorists like Peggy Phelan framed the definition of theater through its inherent differences from film and television. Other theorists like Philip Auslander problematized this distinction, particularly due to television’s similarities to live performance. The cinema, however, has remained an opponent to performance, ignored in favor of technologies that more readily promote a sense of “liveness.” In Projected Performances, I argue that film projection is more closely related to performance than previously thought, particularly when viewed in light of their phenomenological similarities. Projection is a live act that generates a kind of presence that approximates what is felt with a live performer. The theatrical setting of most film viewings foregrounds this phenomenological frame, despite the prerecorded nature of the content. Despite the seemingly static nature of film, the exhibition of it is most often decidedly theatrical. Hybrid theater, in which productions incorporate film projection alongside live performers, highlights these similarities in a much more explicit way, creating a unique sensory experience. This blending of effects is evident in theatrical broadcasts like the Metropolitan Opera’s “Live in HD” series, which capitalizes on the liveness of theater to draw people to the cinema. I also investigate hybrid productions that use projected scenery, such as The Woman in White and The Elephant Vanishes, as well as productions that feature projected bodies, like the work of Lemieux.Pilon 4d Art. Finally, I interrogate the use of projections in the monumental spectacles of the opening ceremonies at the 2008 and 2010 Olympics in Beijing and Vancouver, respectively.Throughout, I examine the ways in which these hybrid productions trouble the assumed distinction between performance and media, demonstrating that projection is a kind of performance that can share the stage with live performers without damaging the unique essential qualities of theater.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Fletcher, John