Lord of the Flies – it was 20 years ago today…

7 Sep

Hard to believe when some things pop up in your online feed, but I realised that it was 20 years ago today that I first made the theatre production of Lord of the Flies. It seems like another lifetime ago. But I just wanted to take the time out today to thank all of the actors, artists, designers and teams who helped to make this show happen over the following decade.

Library - 0680The show ran for 6 productions for the next 11 years. We gave over 960 performances in over 60 venues across the whole of the UK – and also as far afield as Bermuda, and Portugal. We were nominated for numerous awards and picked up a fair few along the way too. There were 6 casts and technical teams – but the original crashed plane design by Ali Allen and Marise Rose and the soundscape by Sandy Nuttgens were constant thoughout the whole series of productions.

It put my career on the map and certainly established Pilot Theatre as a leading touring theatre company across the UK.

Even back in 1998 – when the world was a different place, I placed innovation at the core of our work, online resources, free CD’s and DVD’s on the programmes – remember those?

It was great to make a show that made things happen. For me it enabled us to launch the careers for many emerging actors, lx designers, associate directors and stage managers.

Here is the clip for the trailer made by the video company who flew over from New York back in 1999 to make it for us. It was a video trailer for the show. This was years before YouTube was born, but we realised then the power that images, sound and vision could have that could help to develop a new era of audience and theatremakers.

Thanks to all who had a hand in helping to make this happen all those years ago

You’ve got to join the tribe…

Betty’s, Taylors and Harrogate Theatre

27 Jul

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Dawn Taylor from Bettys & Taylors, Manli Siu and Marcus Romer from Harrogate Theatre

26/07/2018

Livestream Harrogate’s Panto? Oh, yes we will!

Two of Harrogate’s historic institutions met today, with a generous donation from Bettys & Taylors to Harrogate Theatre.

They showed their support for a great cause – Associate Artist Marcus Romer’s ambitious plan to livestream this year’s pantomime into hospitals, hospices and adult social care homes across North Yorkshire.

Here at Harrogate Theatre, we’re really proud of our much-loved annual pantomime, which is written and directed in-house – and we don’t want anyone to miss out on the fun this Christmas.

So, we’ve planned a number of projections and screenings of this year’s production of Jack and the Beanstalk, which families can enjoy together in partnership with Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, where will screen the production in children’s wards, waiting areas and even the lecture theatre of Harrogate Hospital and Ripon Hospital.

This project is ground-breaking for Harrogate and will potentially change the way we look at inclusivity in the arts, making a real difference to people over the festive break.

“I am delighted that we are able to work closely with Harrogate Theatre to turn this idea into a reality and make such a positive difference for patients, their relatives and our staff. We know how popular the pantomime is and it’s fantastic that community organisations can come together in this way”

Find out more or get involved with this exciting project here…

https://www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk/news/posts/2018/april/local-businesses-take-centre-stage/

 

 

I will be co-directing ‘As Long As The Heart Beats’ an #NHS70 project for National Theatre Wales #NTWNHS70

27 Jun

 

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I am really proud to be able to announce that I have been working on this project since January, and I will be co-directing this new piece for National Theatre Wales as
PART OF THE #NHS70 FESTIVAL

Having worked in the NHS at the start of my career, prior to becoming a theatre director, I am delighted to be involved in the creation of this new piece of work. It is one of those projects that ties together my interests, passion and creativity. It has been a real joy to work alongside the brilliant team at National Theatre Wales. We have a terrific group of actors and creative team on board and it promises to be something very special indeed.  This is about the NHS, it is about the people who work in it and how it touches all of our lives. It is a piece for now. Do come and join us…

It will take place at the Outpatient Department, Royal Gwent Hospital, Cardiff Road, Newport NP20 2UB on 21-22 July 2018

The stories –

National Theatre Wales asked the people of this country to share their stories and memories of the NHS.

Gathered from across Wales and the NHS, we’ve woven these individual threads into an immersive and engaging theatrical production that will take place in the Outpatient Department of the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport, featuring specially-composed music and interactive elements.

As Long as the Hearts Beats journeys back through the first 70 years of the NHS and looks ahead to the next seven decades.

There are just ten opportunities to see this life-affirming show which has care and compassion at its heart, performed in the heart of a living, working hospital. So please turn off your mobile phones and wash your hands, it’s visiting time.

Co-directed by Marcus Romer and Ben Tinniswood
Designed by Becky Davies with original music by Tic Ashfield 

For tickets please click here  or call the box office on 029 2037 1689

Sir David Attenborough #Livestream for the opening of the Museum of Zoology #ZoologyOpens June 22nd

19 Jun

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I am immensely proud to be able to be able to Produce the short film and the livestream with Sir David Attenborough for the opening of the Museum of Zoology in Cambridge on June 22nd.

This will be live online from 17.05 on Friday the 22nd, 2018

Here Sir David will be in conversation with Liz Bonnin, the BBC Presenter, and he will also be answering questions from the audience.

With the team we will be live-streaming the event as well as capturing the museum opening, and making a short film of the last object being placed in the museum. The stream will be BSL interpreted.

Please feel free to join us online for what promises to be a truly momentous day

https://tinyurl.com/ZoologyOpens

and also look for the hashtag #ZoologyOpens

 

Reasons to be Cheerful… @thespacearts @graeae @cinegiartsfilm @stratfordeast

8 Mar

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One of the last projects I worked on whilst at Theatre Royal Stratford East, was producing the live to digital version of ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’ the brilliant Ian Dury show by Graeae, directed by Jenny Sealey.

We captured this on the last day of their tour in the theatre back in November 2017. Since then we have been busy getting the right cuts, and several edits and sound mixes later, we have now fully captioned it and with help from The Space we were able to launch this as a cinema version distributed by Cinegi.

It is available for March and April and cinemas have started booking this through their networks. So if you want a chance to see this then get involved here

I completed the final work on the piece last week and am delighted to say that it was launched on March 1st, the day after I left Theatre Royal Stratford East on Feb 28th.

The capture in the theatre, has been cut to make you feel like you are in the pub with the rest of the cast and you have a front row view of them performing right in front of you. The cuts and camera moves are sharp and have a good punk feel to them, with some whip pans and jump cuts to really give it an edge, and for the capture to echo the show and the direction. One of the mantras we had was that this must look right for this show and must not have any over lingering long shots, smooth transitions or cross dissolves…

Thanks to all the team who have made this possible, the crew at Theatre Royal Stratford East, The whole of the Graeae team, the Space and their production team, the team at Cinegi, and above all to Ed Sunman for his editing and skills behind the camera and in the edit suite.

Watching this makes me smile, and gives me many reasons to be cheerful…

 

A new creative phase #shifthappens

17 Feb

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Shift Happens – funnily enough, I know all about that, and also I know that it is a good thing that it does. I have some exciting news, and I am really looking forward to the next creative phase of my work and life. I have just pressed ‘send’ on the final delivery of Graeae’s ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’ edit of the Live to Digital Capture that I produced for The Space whilst at Theatre Royal Stratford East. This will be going into cinemas  via the Cinegi distribution network later this year, and I am delighted to have been able to deliver this as part of my last project at Stratford East.

I am stepping down after nearly two years as Stratford East’s Digital Associate Artist to take up a new position as one of the directors of a new National Theatre Wales piece for their #NHS70 celebration project in July this year. I have already started on this and I am really looking forward to working with all the team in Cardiff and on the project in Newport. More info on this will follow in due course on the next stage of their launch for this project. As someone who used to work in the NHS many moons ago it seems like my creative paths have aligned for this project and I am really looking forward to it.

I will be sorry to leave TRSE, it has been an amazing family of creative practitioners over the time I was there, and the building and the people will always hold special memories for me as a director. The fact that I directed Antigone there as my last show before leaving Pilot as Artistic Director was a really great experience, and this led to the opportunities to develop my live to digital practice with the livestreams of shows into hospitals, hospices and Adult social care homes. Speaking about these initiatives across conferences in Europe led me to develop this work for Ramps on the Moon with their production of ‘Tommy’ and also for the more recent Graeae production of ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’

Since making  ‘The Knife That Killed Me’ – the feature film for Universal Pictures –  I have continued to develop this practice into working across the theatre, film and digital distribution space for audiences, and I know this is where my passion lies. So I am delighted to be able to be working on a new project, not only for National Theatre Wales, but also to be developing two new projects with Collusion, the Cambridge based company that works on the interface between Arts and Technology.

With Collusion I am working with new teams of artists across to develop two new public facing arts/tech engagement projects. These build on an R&D project that I was the lead artist on in King’s Lynn during last year. Again there will be more to let you know about these projects in the coming months. But in the meantime a lot of creative preparation is underway to deliver some new performance projects that will be totally brand new in every respect!

Also my work in Yorkshire was clearly not finished, as I will also be picking up on some work I did at the end of last year and as a result of this I will be returning to Harrogate Theatre as an Associate Artist, where we will be building some new large scale project ideas together, as well as developing some new live to digital opportunities for audiences across Yorkshire. I am looking forward to this too immensely. I have really enjoyed being back up North again, catching up with old mates and colleagues, and generally keeping in creative mischief.

So new doors and new opportunities are always exciting and positive, and I look forward  to being able to keep you posted about how the new creative projects are shaping up and developing.

The photo? I took it in Madrid this January when I was visiting my son who now lives there. It reminds me that wherever you are in the world – you have to keep moving the trash out of the way to make shift happen…

 

Making Digital Strategies come to life in Arts Organisations

28 Jan

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‘Making the good stuff happen’ has been at the top of my work schedule over the past year or so. It builds on my work with live streaming theatre since 2008 – and I realise that this has been a 10 year journey to help deliver work to new audiences in new spaces.

This has most recently been seen in the ‘live to digital’ work I have been doing at Theatre Royal Stratford East, and something that I have been leading on over the 18 months for the organisation. We have livestreamed work into hospitals, hospices and adult social care homes.

This year we took the livestream of the Rapunzel panto into Bart’s Health Trust, and we included Newham University Hospital (pictured above), St Francis’ Hospice in Romford, and Richard House Children’s Hospice in Beckton. It was made available online on a closed channel that broadcast the performance in HD with full stereo sound. This was picked up online and shared onto smart TV’s, laptops, projectors, iPads and smartphones. It worked across all devices.

We have been supported by Galliard Homes for the pantomime and the livestream was also supported too, with The Space helping us to to deliver this.

We shot the matinee on 29th December with 4 HD cameras that also shoot 4k. They are BlackmagicDesign units and they are tiny, so there is no audience disruption, to any need to take any seats off sale. We can capture, cut and deliver work fast, live and in the moment with the team. There is a full sound mix and we cut this live between the wide shots and the camera operators picking up the close ups and tighter shots.

The theatre has been on board with this development, and have got how this works. The work between the different departments have enabled the collaboration needed to make this a success.

This is how I think Digital needs to work in Arts organisations. It is about finding the ways to reach and connect with audiences. To help to disseminate the work and to provide opportunities to create a ‘Digital Outreach’ programme of activity.

Digital is about being able to create more opportunities for access points for audiences. So this does not just sit in the responsibility of just one department. More often, digital falls under the umbrella of marketing  and communications. This is not the only place this work needs to sit. Digital by its very nature is pervasive and touches and affects all aspects of the organisation, and as such should provide links and synergies across all departments. This will encourage a shift in thinking across the work that is created, the internal systems and all the outward facing aspects of the Arts organisation.

I have been delivering digital strategies for leading Arts organisations over the last year, these have included Chichester Festival Theatre, Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Harrogate Theatre and Kettle’s Yard Museum and Gallery. In all these organisations there is the real willingness to develop and to deliver  a new way of working within the digital space in this way.

However, at the moment, there are many obstacles in the way for arts organisations to get on board with this. Hurdles of rights, permissions, and legal stuff. All important stuff, but we surely need to find a way to streamline this and push the tech and opportunities forward.

To help do this I have put together a ‘how to get started’ with all this, for UK Theatre. This was published on their site this year, and I am now attaching my redrafted version here, which hopefully might be useful.

Let me know if you have any thoughts or ideas about how we might develop this work in the future…

Thanks – here is the guide for you

LivestreamingGuidebyMarcusRomer

marcus@artsbeacon.uk