Theater as Data

Computational Journeys into Theater Research

Subjects: Theater and Performance, Media Studies
Paperback : 9780472054794, 230 pages, 21 illustrations, 7 tables, 6 x 9, August 2021
Hardcover : 9780472074792, 230 pages, 21 illustrations, 7 tables, 6 x 9, August 2021
Open Access : 9780472128631, 230 pages, 21 illustrations, 7 tables, 6 x 9, August 2021

This open access version made available by the National University of Singapore
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Demonstrates how quantitative digital tools for theater researchers can provide fresh insights

Table of contents

Table of Contents
Introduction: In Pursuit of Theater’s Digital Traces
Part 1: Pre-Departure Reflections
1 Towards a More Nuanced Conversation on Methodology
2 The Roles of Statistics
3 The Roles of Visualizations
Part 2: Guided Tours
4 Words as Data
5 Relationships as Data
6 Motion as Data
7 Locations as Data
Part 3: Ensuring the Journeys Continue
8 The Imperative of Open and Sustainable Data
9 The Roles of Software Programming
Appendix A: Data Biographies
Appendix B: Technical Glossary


In Theater as Data, Miguel Escobar Varela explores the use of computational methods and digital data in theater research. He considers the implications of these new approaches, and explains the roles that statistics and visualizations play. Reflecting on recent debates in the humanities, the author suggests that there are two ways of using data, both of which have a place in theater research. Data-driven methods are closer to the pursuit of verifiable results common in the sciences; and data-assisted methods are closer to the interpretive traditions of the humanities. The book surveys four major areas within theater scholarship: texts (not only playscripts but also theater reviews and program booklets); relationships (both the links between fictional characters and the collaborative networks of artists and producers); motion (the movement of performers and objects on stage); and locations (the coordinates of performance events, venues, and touring circuits). Theater as Data examines important contributions to theater studies from similar computational research, including in classical French drama, collaboration networks in Australian theater, contemporary Portuguese choreography, and global productions of Ibsen. This overview is complemented by short descriptions of the author’s own work in the computational analysis of theater practices in Singapore and Indonesia. The author ends by considering the future of computational theater research, underlining the importance of open data and digital sustainability practices, and encouraging readers to consider the benefits of learning to code. A web companion offers illustrative data, programming tutorials, and videos. 

Miguel Escobar Varela is Assistant Professor of Theatre Studies at the National University of Singapore.

Honorable Mention: Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) 2022 Award for Digital Scholarship

- ATHE Award for Digital Scholarship

“A major contribution to theater studies and to Digital Humanities more broadly, Theater as Data offers a compelling vision of how the two fields can—and, in the case studies, do—work together to produce new knowledge.”
—Derek Miller, Harvard University

- Derek Miller

“A much-needed synthesis of existing data methods in Digital Humanities and Theatre Studies, featuring a well-theorized framework that can be used by other scholars. The book also provides an important analysis of Indonesian and Singaporean texts, choreographies, and other performance records.”
—Jennifer Roberts-Smith, University of Waterloo

- Jennifer Roberts-Smith

"Theater as Data is likely to become the definitive guide to using computational data in theatre, dance, and performance studies research."
Contemporary Theatre Review

- E.B. Bradley Hunter

"It is a ‘must-read’ that is able to make connections in areas where communion is usually deemed impossible."
Theatre Research International

- Theatre Research International

"This volume is an excellent primer on gathering and analyzing data in theatre research, as well as an informed guide for using and preserving data ethically."

- The Drama Review (TDR)

"With its impressive survey of scholarly projects, methods, and debates, Theater as Data is an important text for everyone working at the intersections of the digital humanities and theatre, dance, and performance studies."
Theatre Survey

- Theatre Survey

"Miguel Escobar Varela's first monograph, Theater as Data, is perhaps the most important book on theatre and performance research to appear in the last twenty years...As such, it is a rare achievement that should become a staple of training programmes globally and a turning point for the future of performance research." 
--Performance Research

- Performance Research

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