What is a Video Play?


Silk Road Rising first coined the term “video play” in 2011 with the release of Jamil Khoury’s both/and.

While the definition of the term continues to evolve for us, it is important to note that a video play is neither a filmed play nor a feature film, but rather a marriage of genres; a hybrid of theatrical language and design aesthetics enacted on a theatrical stage, conveyed through a cinematic lens, and engaged on a computer, tablet or smartphone screen, or at public screenings.

The video play is conceived for the stage, interpreted cinematically, and then rendered online.

Video plays leverage the unique strengths of both theatre and film, employing those strengths in accordance with the story being told. The onus is placed on embracing the best of both genres while eschewing perceived limits and constraints.

Ideally, the video play rejects binaries of stage and screen and strives to create a viewing experience that approximates elements of attending both live theatre and the cinema.

For a video play to succeed, audiences should recognize this hybrid form as an asset, a desirable medium for storytelling, and not as a compromised version of its antecedents.

We believe that words like “play” and “theatre” and “performance” are dynamic, not static. They evolve, they change, they are reinvented.

From where we stand, a video play is indeed a theatrical experience, one fully worthy of the title “play.”

What began as an experiment now supports a central thesis: the online video play is an artistically compelling and cost effective mechanism for deepening Silk Road Rising’s mission and expanding our reach. And why shouldn’t it be? The internet has, after all, become the 21st century’s Silk Road.

The National Endowment for the Arts identifies the internet as America’s fastest growing medium for arts engagement.

As we are often reminded, there exists a hunger for the work that we do, and it extends well beyond the boundaries of Chicago. The National Endowment for the Arts identifies the internet as America’s fastest growing medium for arts engagement.

In fact, video content posted online has become the single most important means of content distribution for artists and producers the world over.

We would argue that the internet is the most democratic, egalitarian, and accessible arts destination humankind has ever known. It is hard to accuse the internet of being elitist or delineated by socio-economic class.

If we are to create art that is relevant to the world we live in, if we are to revive theatre as an art form for all people, then we must bring art to where people actually live. The online video play is an important step in achieving that goal.