Performing Mobiles: Smartphones and Theatre

Theatre in the age of smartphones.

Both Apple and Google’s App Stores were launched in 2008, heralding an age of handheld, mobile computing. Since then, more than 125 billion apps have been downloaded and, by the end of 2014, 81% of Australians owned a smartphone. Theatre attendance in the same period has remained a steady 16% of the Australian population visiting at least once per year. Thus, if Australia’s theatregoers reflect the population as a whole, four out of five of them will bring their smartphone to a performance and silence it. Because, while smartphone usage for some has penetrated almost every aspect of daily life, it remains anathema to most live theatre. This paper begins to discuss theatre in the age of smartphones, and analyses theatre’s potential to move, as other communication systems have, ‘over the top’ of existing infrastructure to spread across platforms via the Internet Protocol.

This academic paper will complement the ‘Dark Telephony’ PASSAGES mobile performance also submitted by Robert Walton with collaborator Jason Maling.