Anticipating a Return to Live Shows

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There have been many gimmick performances by artists in an attempt to create a COVID safe live environment: The Flaming Lips performed inside zorb balls, Liam Gallagher performed while travelling down the River Thames, and Lil Nas X even performed a concert inside the virtual reality of Roblox.

Aside from these desperate attempts at uniquely limited performances, there have also been some impressive online performances put on by artists which attempt to recreate the excitement and production of live shows from the comfort of your sofa. Dua Lipa had one of the more memorable streamed events with ‘Studio 2054’, in which she performed songs from her hit album Future Nostalgia, complete with dance routines, costume changes, and special guests.

However, with restrictions easing and tour dates releasing, we have now come to an exciting time in which the prospect of actual live shows looms on the horizon, and we can start to think about what that might really look like.

There are certainly some things that we have learned throughout COVID enforced streamed performances which wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep…

Firstly, we should hope that the same level of effort and innovation that we have seen throughout the pandemic is put back into real shows. Bo Burnham‘s recently released special ‘Inside’ is a perfect example of this; his exploration of a comedian who is used to performing in front of live crowds but is now stuck inside, and the creative struggles that come with that experience shows how lockdown has brought about a new kind of performance innovation – but with a cost. This kind of performance would surely not have been created if it was written and directed for a live audience; let’s all hope that artists draw upon the many hours of reflection that they have had over the past year and bring their influence into performances.

There has also been an unsung hero from the forced digitalisation of live events: streamed theatre. When the National Theatre began streaming their past performances for free at the beginning of the UK’s first lockdown, it opened new doors to people who may have never even stepped foot into a theatre. It showed us all the importance of the accessibility of live art, and how it should never only be for a select few. |Going forward, we should take these lessons into the real world of the performing arts and ensure that they are open to all.

On the other hand, there are very obvious things that do not need to be brought into live events – the main one being social distancing. While some of us may be understandably nervous about being back in a room full of laughing, shouting, singing people, there are a large majority who are desperate to get back real, live, right-there-in-front-of-you art. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that live art cannot be fully experienced from your laptop screen.

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Records Editor 21-22

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