How can we better utilize Digital Media to support and compliment theatre?

Laura Evans, 17 July 2012

Digital Media is an enormous topic, I'll try and summarise here some of the things we discussed:

Do recordings of live productions work, either to help sell productions or encourage new theatre attendees?

We discussed that theatre doesn't necessarily look good on film, particularly when producers try to make it look like a film. Furthermore, when watching online, people may think that have therefore ‘seen’ the production and not ever experience it. This only really works for big ‘spectacle’ productions. Furthermore, they often work for ‘catching up’ with what we missed, rather than what is coming up - this could be echoed across other forms of digital media communications.

However, opera companies for example are successfully making their work more accessible by selling online subscriptions.

How can we use video to help promote shows?

Video can generate excitement and act as reassurance to the theatre-goer that the production is in the style that they expect. People are now used to visual marketing that requires little effort and video caters well to this.

The difficulties lie in making a show trailer 6 months ahead of a show going into a production. Often the final piece will not be reflective of the trailer content and could be artistically binding for the company. Is it better therefore to have a trailer that doesn't accurately reflect the production, or to not have one at all? Furthermore, we are used to watching film trailers that show actual footage - are teaser trailers too misleading, should it be clear to the viewer that it is NOT actual footage?

Trailers can however work well to demonstrate a company's style. Clips from a previous Propeller production, for example, would give the theatre-goer a good indication of the style and calibre of the company and better enable them to make a decision on whether to attend. Similarly, a producing theatre may not have a particular style, but, a showcase of their seasons previous work could equally assist a theatre goer to make a decision.

Additionally, sometimes a film can generate interest because it contains an element of something of unique interest to a niche market. A soundtrack for example.

How else can video work for theatre?

Viral videos - short, funny films that are not necessarily relevant to the company or organisation can be extremely successful ways of generating interest in the company, particularly from those who may not have previously considered themselves ‘theatre types’. They can help to correct misconceptions about theatre or organisations.

Videos can also be important resources for schools, particularly for work on the syllabus. It can support the work of the teacher as well as giving pupils insight into a theatre production.

Are people interested in rehearsal photos / footage?

Although companies are often keen to circulate rehearsal photos and footage, it is rarely of interest to anyone outside the company, unless it offers a unique insight or wow factor for example,- a directors unique style, a celebrity, a unique dance move, or a clever scene change.

What about Twitter?

Some organisations are struggling with the tone of their company-wide Twitter account, others are uncomfortable with a junior member representing the organisation online.

It is essential that the ‘Tweeters’ of an organisation are fully supported and that that person is someone with the confidence to be the voice of that organisation.

Twitter is such a fast moving medium that people actually make choices on what content they engage in, rather than who Tweeted it. If a theatre tweets about lunchtime burgers in the theatre cafe one minutes, and an important update from the ACE the next, it isn't a confusing message, the organisation are merely catering to the wide variety of followers.


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