Guest Blog: Mengting Zhuo – Why you should stop going to theatres and watch Periscope

In this blog post, Mengting Zhuo talks about the emerging platform of Periscope and compares the digital performance with live theatre performance. Don’t miss TOGETHER Tue 18 – Wed 19 September, featured in Camden Underground.

Get your tickets here.

Why you should stop going to theatres and watch Periscope by Mengting Zhuo

If you spot this article then you’re probably a theatre goer. Me too. But I’ve realised, with the emerging online broadcasting platforms, such as Periscope, we don’t really need to visit theatres anymore.

Here’s why:

Live broadcast is raw and true. You got the raw footage because the broadcasters cannot edit their film before they post. You get a close look at the performers, and everything is unveiled in front of you in real time. The ever-present reality makes a live broadcast a more accurate representation of real life.

It offers virtuosic performance. A good online broadcaster is equipped with the same skills of news anchors: shouting out people’s names, incorporating challenges in their show, and reacting to the conversation happening during broadcasts. The best of what a stand-up comedian can do is similar to this.

It is entertaining. People on Periscope not only eat and sleep, they can sing and dance too. If you want a quick escape from the reality, it is just easy to turn on the app. Do you know how expensive London commuting is? It is cooler to stay at home and be entertained.

A durational fixed-angle broadcast of Waitan (The Bund) in Shanghai, through Bilibili

The broadcasts can be durational, site-specific and immersive. The camera can point to someone’s home, New York’s streets, of or the Bund in Shanghai. I mean, it is actually artistic!

You can peep into people’s real lives (instead of the pretended and rehearsed ones). Millions of real people, and millions of real stories. You have loads of human drama to choose from – crime, sex, betrayals, and lots of tension.

Woman in France broadcasts suicide live on Periscope – excerpts of this video circulated on YouTube

But it is not only about mundanities, and you get to see real celebrities in the broadcast world. Donald Trump ‘scopes’ from time to time, and you can still become one of his 450k followers, and watch him further his stance on building a wall at the border.

Entry is free. Having said that, you can always contribute something if you fancy a broadcaster so much, and it is still cheaper than watching a striptease show.

If you don’t like somebody, it is easy to change channels. No need to be forced sitting for 2 hours while you are nodding off with a play. Or I mean, you could be nodding off, and you won’t be judged. Also, no obligation to make theatre criticism as well.

The experience is very personal. You become part of the live and ephemeral moments, and even influence the story in fornt of you. At least, I feel thrilled when a broadcaster responds to me. Like a customised service.

Watching live broadcast is a new ritual, and you can go through these rituals on your own, making it much more manageable especially in a metropolis. You can always find somebody live while you’re having your breakfast, lunch and supper., Life becomes more meaningful when it is fulfilled by endless streaming videos.

It gives you a sense of togetherness. A performance can bring anywhere from tens to hundreds of people to experience and witness something togehter. Now you can sit in front of a screen and be one of the cluster that are bigger than what an opera house can hosts. You would feel better, when you realise everybody is just as lonely as you.

a drunk driver using Periscope to broadcast herself in Lakeland, Florida

If you’re still with me, you’re probably kind of convinced. Seems like there are not many reasons to visit theatres anymore – But what if the broadcasting takes place in a theatre?

Like next week at Camden People’s Theatre?

Will you feel the theatrical rituals are intensified or the opposite?

Find out in TOGETHER before you decide to quit theatre completely.

We will feel together.


Fri 16th Mar, 7:15pm (Running Time: 70min)

£12 (£10 conc) | | 020 7419 4841

Book here