One dividing line that’s often posited about narrative art forms might be summed up as visual vs. verbal. It’s a common formulation that film is a visual medium and theatre a verbal one, or at least that each occupies a roughly opposite place on a continuum between those two poles. There are elements of truth in this popular dichotomy, but not a lot, I would argue. The main difference between recorded and live media, it seems to me, is neatly suggested by those descriptors: One is packaged and predetermined, often intimate in feeling but fixed in its outcome; the other is blessedly, unnervingly indeterminate, simultaneously distanced from a crowd’s gaze and irreducibly immediate.

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