André Deridder

Filming the stage: historical and aesthetic perspectives for an essential archive of the future’

André Deridder


Since the appearance and growth of cinema, a close but sometimes ambiguous relationship has been forged between the “Seventh Art” and the performing arts. Although cinema evolved quickly to become an art form in its own right, the stage and the productions produced for this space remain an object of attention for film directors. The relationship between the audio-visual sector and the presentational arts torments historians, creators and aestheticians alike. Experimented with and made use of by some, with varying degrees of success, fully rejected by others, the filming of the stage always raises many practical questions as well as theoretical reflections.

What are the current audio-visual challenges in capturing the performing arts? From what point can the filming of a pre-existing stage work be considered a work in its own right? What is the importance of the purpose of the capture in the determination of its language? What kind of relationship is formed between the director of the live performance and that of the recorded performance when this latter work exists in its own right? And, after all, isn’t the act of filming the stage always an act of displacement or delocalisation? Doesn’t capturing it on film imply the negation of the scenic dimension of the event through the invention of a new place and a new temporality? How can the stage still exist on the screen?

The purpose of this paper is to tackle multiple questions and the search for possible answers which will illuminate the eternal dialectical tensions between performing arts and recorded performing arts.

A graduate in History and Performing Arts Studies, André Deridder is Deputy Director of the Fine Arts and Letters Library (BFLT) of the University of Louvain (UCL), Belgium, responsible for the Department of Performing Arts. A teacher in theatre history at the college of higher education Lycée Martin V, Brussels, he has written several articles on the performing arts in Belgium including several historical articles on the presence of foreign theatre companies. He is also a member of the Executive Committee of the International Association of Libraries, Museums, Archives and Documentation Centres of the Performing Arts (SIBMAS) and Chairman of the Belgian francophone section. In this context, he organised the international study day on best practice for databases of performing arts shows (March 2017) and the conference “Filming the Stage” (April 2013). In addition he is coordinating the upcoming issue of the French-speaking periodical Etudes théâtrales (autumn 2018), which will focus on the latter subject.

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