Theater Research International (TRI) 48.1, S. 24-37, doi: 10.1017/S0307883322000384 (OPEN ACCESS)
All became data during the pandemic. Lockdowns made manifest what had developed for some time: that theatre has become inextricably entangled with digital cultures, the performing arts being increasingly encountered as a growing stock of multimodal fragments, textual discourses and networked communications. And, it is argued, it is precisely this appearance of theatre as (big) data that might prove to be the game-changer post-pandemic, and that this game-changer might be solely an epistemological one: what is known about theatre, how that knowledge is organized, and who is involved in organizing this knowledge, are rapidly changing. Based on an exemplary analysis of the discourses of legitimation that compensated for the loss of presence in German theatres, and the associated imperative to innovate production, this article estimates the epistemological consequences of theatre returns as data to advocate for a reconceptualization of theatre beyond performance.