A Recalibration of Theatre’s Hypermediality




Journal Title

Journal ISSN


Volume Title


Palgrave Macmillan


Book chapter

Peer reviewed


The unique capacity of theatre, as often proposed, is that it allows all media hosted within it to manifest themselves in their own particular forms, expressed by Claudia Georgi as ‘its ability to integrate other media without affecting their respective materiality and mediality’ (2014: 46), whilst simultaneously representing them as theatrical signifiers. This property of theatre has led to the 21st century sobriquet hypermedium, capable of incorporating many other media, as notably elucidated in Intermediality in Theatre and Performance (2006). In the introductory chapter to that text, the editors Freda Chapple and Chiel Kattenbelt stated that ‘theatre has become a hypermedium and home to all’, within which all media can be sited and remediated to create ‘profusions of texts, inter-texts, inter-media and space in between.’ (24) However, it must be noted that Elleström is not persuaded on this specific argument of theatre as a hypermedium. In 2010, and again in the introductory chapter to this text, he wrote, citing Chapple and Kattenbelt, that theatre is ‘definitely extremely multimodal and it integrates many basic and qualified media, but it is an overstatement to say that ‘theatre is a hypermedium that incorporates all arts and media.’ (45) This chapter pursues Elleström’s perspective and seeks a more nuanced analysis of the interactions between multiple basic, technical and qualified media as they are represented within theatre. My contention is that alongside the significance of material mobility, there are specific temporal, spatial and sensorial modes which are fundamental in defining the mechanics and the potential of the hypermedium. This interplay of modalities creates new forms of hybrid signification through particular dialogues of immediacy and hypermediacy, participant authorship, angles of mediation and angles of exclusivity, transporting theatre into new and sometimes challenging relationships with other assertive qualified media, notably what I refer to as the architecture of commerce.


open access book


architecture of commerce, angles of exclusivity, angles of mediation, hypermediacy, hypermedium, immediacy, modalities, modes, participation, pre-semiotic, qualified medium, semiotic, sensorial, signification, spatio-temporal, spectatorship


Crossley, M. (2020) A Recalibration of Theatre’s Hypermediality. In: Ellestrom, L. (Ed.) Beyond Media Borders, Volume 1 : Intermedial Relations among Multimodal Media, London: Palgrave Macmillan.


Research Institute

Institute of Drama, Dance and Performance Studies