Catherine Fowles, 25 January 2015

This report and the session called were inspired by two of the founding members of

Backstage Forward, a company that is striving to inspire audiences with access to the

world of backstage and what it actually takes to make a production.

We've recently revamped our idea in terms of how to build hype and make the process

more accessible to audiences. The discussion we brought to D&D had a social media

focus as we are hoping to use social media and technology to live stream rehearsals,

follow designers through their processes and create programming that embraces the

hard work accomplished during the pre-production and production of a show.

Early on we were able to establish that people are interested in the creation story. The

jumpers that come with the story of the process of making them are sold with the story

as part of the package and novelty of the jumper. We discussed where we see “behind

the scenes;” namely DVD extras, director's commentary, profiles on the actors, Q&As

after shows… people have a natural curiosity to follow how things are made.

Below you will find bullet points regarding what was discussed with regard to this idea

of embracing the process and how to make it accessible to anyone. The conversation

can be broken into Potential Content for the programming (presented via social media,

namely Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.), Potential Actions, Goals, and other

examples that validate or critique our concept as well as general discussion points

inspired by the course of the overall discussion.

Potential Content for the programming:

-budget/logistical issues

-how do we engage people in the process

-look at comparative viewpoints

-demystification of the process –> banality of the process?

-definition of roles through interviews

–identifying skills and the ability to interrelate the roles in accomplishing the production

of a piece of work

–create the ability for new practitioners to identify themselves with the work, i.e.

discovering that you have the inherent demeanor for stage management

–career building/education/advisors –> could young people be the main audience


–game identifying roles after outlining the profiles

–eventually highlight venue, marketing, and producer roles?

-end of the day check ins

-live streaming full rehearsals? If not, how do we shape it in a way that is not

over-editing and compromising the sincerity of communicating the process

-generate personal content to create intimacy (in the way that an actor on stage

creates that bond with the audience) with backstage personnel

-demonstrate the skills involved with each role

-demonstrate value for money in the ticket price –> create the ability to see all the

work that goes into a production and equate that to what the audience pays to

experience the culmination of that work –> give the process a weight and value with a

deeper understanding of what it takes to make the production (especially in the

context of subsidized ticketing)

Potential Actions

-get a consultant that is external to the process

-provide questions to those engaged before the process begins –>guide audience

through the process by giving them the thinking process and vocabulary to

communicate about it effectively

-think about narrative of the social media “coverage”

-connect with IdeasTap or NSDF–> build contacts that can help facilitate the content

through mutual interest and benefit

–generating practitioners, interest in training, etc.

–recruiting these organisations to comment on our work/the process

-live on Twitter in order to generate conversations –> it needs to fuel other people to

discuss our content rather than us churning it out on a regular basis –> this could be

the result of certain periods of being fully present


-developing a present audience's engagement while creating new audience

-competing and comparison –> finding liveliness

-identify a specific potential audience and star the conversation with that audience in

the hopes of it continuing in a broader context

-finding uniqueness/honesty in ordinary process –> have an outsider point it out

-record the difficulty/pleasure of the process as honestly as possible

-engage the audience with the process –> how do we get them to the theatre? Don't

give away too much too soon. Give them “questions” that cannot be answered unless

they attend the production

-create the focus – balance between editing and full honesty

-Give the audience ownership of the piece – create the ability for interpretation

Other Discussion Points and Examples

-rehearsal logs released online – interest that dwindled as time passed

-Q&A: live, contact – aim to create contact with the audience

-venues Twitter conversation – the challenge was maintaining the conversation and

holding it in an engaged manner

-audiences have expressed anxiety over the correct way to respond to theatre

-the anonymity of online presence give the audience the opportunity to prejudge the

theatre experience before entering – they can think critically about the piece during the

process of creating it

-reality tv shaped by voice overs

-Are we thinking about social media correctly? Are we thinking about it in an old world

way? A project of this sort may need a totally new media method in order to avoid too

much repackaging.

-must consider the duality of and relationship between putting content out and what

that does for the process

-how do we create community or open it up to an existing community? –> On Twitter,

add specific hashtags?

If you have thoughts on the above, please join the conversation! Follow us on Twitter

@backstage4ward and tweet us with your thoughts!


directors, production, process, Producers, audience building, audience engagement,

producers, Marketing, discussion, awareness, design, education, twitter, Design,

facebook, youtube, technology, Twitter, outreach, Technology, Youtube, Education,

Audience engagement, Directors, Facebook, forum, social media, marketing,

backstage work, designers, Designers, career building, stage management, Process

Comments: 1

Dee Ishani, 27 January 2015

Hi, I didn't spot this over the weekend but I have done some research in the past about streaming (I work for a web dev

company working with arts organisations and have worked in digital marketing for years) so might be able to help with some

answers. @stripysocksrock if you want to say hi!