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Title: The arena spectacular from 'Ben Hur Live' to 'Isles of Wonder' : adaptation, post-cinema and the postcivil
Author: Whitby, Richard
ISNI:       0000 0004 6352 926X
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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What is an ‘arena spectacular’ and why has this genre of live entertainment gained international popularity in the twenty-first century? This study looks at three arena spectaculars: Ben Hur Live, Batman Live and Walking with Dinosaurs Live – all adapted from film or TV productions and performed in London’s O2 Arena between 2007 and 2012. I contextualise the shows with the work of Cirque du Soleil, the Millennium Dome and the city of Las Vegas. However, I argue that the format reached its fullest expression in Britain with the opening ceremony to the London 2012 Olympics, Danny Boyle’s Isles of Wonder. This study proposes that there are specific affective and economic factors within neoliberal and post-cinematic society that make the spatialised, live and ‘unmediated’ performance of a known image or hypertext into an attractive commodity. The arena spectacular should be understood via post-cinematic image-making and the fluidity with which images move from screen, to site and back will be explored here as a commercial process of ‘remediation’. An aggregate of older devices and media that seems to be defined in heterotopic contradistinction to a digital media regime, this format can be explained through contemporaneous qualities of public space, immaterial labour, government and consumption. This analysis is an attempt at grasping the ‘offer’ of these products – through their advertising, merchandise and the shows themselves. What is their affordance; what experiences do they allow and how does this benefit both consumers and producers? Despite their economic and cultural marginality, perhaps these entertainment productions can be seen in some ways as archetypal products of the early twenty-first century.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available