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Taking livestreamed theatre into Adult Social Care Homes with @stratfordeast

23 May

I really enjoy working as an associate artist at Theatre Royal Stratford East. As part of our work as A People’s Theatre, we are continuing  to explore how this can extend the reach and engagement for audiences using existing and emerging platforms and networks.

I have previously described the real human connection that was discovered when our livestream went into children’s hospitals and a children’s hospice earlier this year. As you may know I have been a real advocate in my work for developing new projects that have an extended element of digital engagement for audiences for over a decade now.

So this new initiative is no different. Tommy, is the great new touring production of the classic 1969 album and subsequent movie by The Who. Ramps on the Moon have produced an extraordinary show, directed by Stratford East’s Artistic Director, Kerry Michael, the piece has access running through all aspects of the production.

So as part of our discussions with Kerry, we will be developing the HD livestream, which will be broadcast to adult social care homes across east London, as well as across care homes in some of the venue cities that the production has toured to.

This will be a fully captioned, with an audio description feed too. The show has integrated signing as part of the action and a full live band.

Some of the homes and schemes we are working with are dementia care homes, and we are really keen to see how the piece works in these venues for the audience and their families. Clearly there are references both visually and musically from over 40 years ago which may allow recognition and connections.

We are inviting families to come and participate and watch alongside their family members who may be resident in the schemes and spaces we are working with. We know the technology can work. we have done it before many times. In a way that’s the easy bit. But what is really clear to me, is that the people here, living in the Borough and near the theatre have for many years paid their Council Tax, their income Tax, and contributed to the community in which they now live. They gave a right to be able to access the work that they have contributed towards, for free. To me that is what A People’s Theatre can and should deliver.

My question is, why are all theatres and arts organisations not pushing the boundaries in the same way and using the digital opportunities that are now clearly in our grasp to make those same connections?

 

Digital livestream stuff and what it can now mean for audiences… @stratfordeast

21 Feb

 

trse6I wanted to put something down in a blog about the last digital livestream I ran from Stratford East. It was between Christmas and New Year on the 29th of December. For this we took the live feed from the Christmas show, Sinbad the Sailor into the Children’s wards of Bart’s Health Trust and also to Richard House Children’s Hospice in Beckton.

The team in the theatre had been well prepared and all the actors and the creative team were all on board for the livestream. Using four cameras we were able to deliver an ultra HD feed to the locations where we had our audiences. The Hospice were amazing they had invited families, siblings and carers of the children who were resident, and set up a big party in their meeting room which was equipped with an HD projector, full screen and surround sound. They provided cakes, drinks and costumes for all the guests and there were 30 families and friends who were able to attend and watch the show.

I was with them in the hospice, and experienced the live feed into the room first hand. I was also in contact with the tech team in the theatre, and the other Stratford East team who were at Newham University Hospital Children’s ward.

The tech held up for the whole two and half hours without a glitch, and the sound and picture was pin sharp and clear. But the most important aspect was the interaction and engagement with the audience in the remote venues. In our room in the hospice when the actors looked down the lens and waved at the staff and residents and called out their names the cheer back from us was almost deafening!

But it was when the actors, and the whole audience in the theatre sang happy birthday to a little girl called Hope who was four that day. She had been attending the Hospice for some months and she was with her family in the room, and her face lit up when she heard her name called and she called back to the big cinema screen with unalloyed joy, and when everyone in the room joined in and she turned and smiled at us all. Everyone was singing Happy Birthday to her – and that was over 600 people. During this I caught her grandfather’s eye as he wiped away a tear and he saw me and nodded back to acknowledge that we had both just shared a moment of what it means to be human.

So after working on this digital stuff for many year now, and helped to talk and write about and try and convince people of the value of this work and how it can connect with audiences. This event has clarified for me the nature of what we do, and how we have a duty to utilise the technology available to share our work much more widely.

So when people continue to try and tell me that well ‘of course it is not the same as being there’, and how digital ‘dilutes the experience’ etc etc…I will remind myself of this true event and redouble my effort to continue to explore and find new ways of reaching people in the places and places that they make and live their lives.

I will be presenting a ‘how to get started’ in live to digital work at UK Theatre’s Touring Symposium on March 23rd, and I will be delivering a keynote at the European Theatre Convention in Karlsruhe, Germany on April 7th.

 

 

Livestream from @Stratfordeast to East London Hospitals and Richard House Children’s Hospice

28 Dec

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Today I am preparing the final details for the Theatre Royal Stratford East Pantomime, Sinbad the Sailor that will be streamed live to children and their families in wards and units in Bart’s Health Trust Hospitals and Richard House Children’s Hospice on the afternoon of December 29th.

Thursday will be an early start with the livestream camera team heading to the theatre to set up their multi-camera set up – with 5 cameras and microphones places around the auditorium and two operators in the left and right stalls boxes. It will be mixed live by the team who are also in one of the upper circle boxes, this live feed will go straight into the broadband connection at the Theatre and will be encoded and placed onto a player that can be then watched online via the password protected page on the website.

Away from the theatre in the streaming locations at both Newham University Hospital and Richard House Hospice, I will be working with the Stratford East teams to prepare the projectors and to to set the rooms out for the families and children to come along. This is something that not only allows families, and siblings of children who are receiving care to share in the experience, but also for the staff as well.

The live feed will also be available to young patients across the Hospital network who are also receiving treatment, so they can watch it on their iPads or smartphones whilst having dialysis for example.

This is part of the work of the Theatre Royal, to engage as widely as possible with a diverse range of audiences, and artists to deliver and share the work we make. This is now possible across a range of digital platforms. I am really delighted to be part of this journey with Stratford East.

It is clear that this is the direction of travel for work to be made more available, and the more opportunities Arts and Cultural organisations can find to engage with the widest possible communities for which they are there to serve, the greater the opportunity for connection and understanding of each other, and to help us find our common humanity.

This livestream has been made possible with support from Galliard Homes

Let’s talk about the rights and wrongs of IP for creative and cultural projects

2 May

I know this is going to ruffle some feathers, get some people’s backs up and that kind of thing. But it really is time we addressed the issue of rights in terms of creative work that has been made and produced using public money.

At some point in the journey of a piece of work that has been made using funding that is essentially public money, should, at some point, become feely available for all to see, and benefit from. This point should be arrived at after the piece of work has had chance to recoup costings and profits, and to use the word ‘monetise’ its potential.

I am talking about the capture of theatre work and live performances, and the ever growing  archive and body of work that we are now creating and producing. I am also talking about the archive and body of work that exists from days before the internet that is stored and hidden away. Lets be creative about the licensing for its use…

Why can’t we have some of the recorded work captured by leading theatres and organisations made available for people to revisit, study, share or enjoy? As long as they are not being traded further for monetary gain, they are then in a Creative Commons bank of ideas and inspiration for all to see and learn from. A digital public space for creative endeavour and understanding. A free library of visual, audio and performing arts.

I take my thinking from the talk I saw at TED way back in 2007 – yes 9 years ago – by Larry Lessig, who was then introducing the whole concept of Creative Commons Licences. Let’s reconsider these now. After all, where did the money come from in the first place to make the work? From either public subsidy, or people buying tickets. So actually, we are also stakeholders in each project, so at some point it must be OK to ask for a return?

As Professor Lessig says ‘let common sense prevail’

 

 

 

Looking back / Going forward 13/14 #blogpost

30 Dec

This year was full of stuff – some great things and some less so. I don’t want to dwell on the crap bits or over expound the positives. I want to rather put a list together, with some pictures of things that have been important to me over the year. I am looking forward to 2014 with a renewed vigour and I am looking forward to creating interesting work with interesting people, and to spending more time with my family and friends who are so important to me. At times it felt as if several things were pulling me in different directions – but not quite as hard as the dog walker I managed to get a picture of in Buenos Aires…

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So, in no particular order

1. Blood + Chocolate – was the most extraordinary project ever. It was the culmination of two years of planning and an intense nine months of preparation and pre-production, resulting in a truly great project – my thanks go to all the people of York who came on the journey with us and to the hard work of all the teams who made this possible – so a big up to Pilot and SlungLow for making it happen.

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The full webcast video of the whole production is available on demand here to watch again Blood + Chocolate webcast

2. The Knife That Killed Me – This year we finalised the edit and did the test screenings at Universal Pictures and I am very much looking forward to this being in cinemas in 2014 as we move towards the release date. This has been the culmination of 5 years work since I first pressed ‘send’ on the first draft of the screenplay to the producers. I am incredibly proud of the work that the whole team put into this, to make this completely new feature film happen

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The quality of each of the frames is amazing – considering that there are 137,000 of them – and each has been hand finished and has hand drawn artwork on each one…

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Great hand drawn artwork from Stu Ord on all these frames and screengrabs

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3. TED Conference 2013 – I had an amazing time in Los Angeles in February at the annual TED conference. Some standout talks and great moments and new friends made…Like here ‘California Dreaming’ in front of the Hollywood sign

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One of the talks by Spoken Word Poet Shane Kocyzan is well worth a moment of your time.

4. Our house – the sale fell through after 6 months of messing about. Shift Happens, I know… I have now moved back in. I love this house. We may sell it this year, we may not. Either way I am not going to stress about it as we realise how fortunate and lucky we are.

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5. Shift Happens V – again we ran this in York and a big thanks to the fantastic line up of speakers – a couple of stand out moments for me were the fabulous Jenny Sealey from Graeae…

and to Matt Mason VP of  BitTorrent who came over from San Francisco to join us in York

the brilliant Julia Unwin, CEO of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation

and of course Elliot Barnes-Worrell

6. Twitter stuff – now whilst this is not really a big deal it has been one of the stranger moments this year – I read a post by a facebook friend which I adapted, thanked and tweeted. Turns out someone had done this earlier in the year too and I hadn’t seen it or was even aware of it. By that time it was too late – it went viral. I thanked all parties and then sat back and tried to fend off the 30k email notifications of each RT or favourite. I now know how to turn of those notifications btw…

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7. A proud dad moment as our son Christy Romer graduated with a 2:1 from LSE.

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8. And a finger selfie from Porto in Portugal as we crossed over the bridge to the old town was part of a great summer break too

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9. Where both Christy and Mills agreed to pose for their one annual picture for us, which was offley good of them…

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10. As proud moments go – this one of Susie on the BBC news – which was the first of her many live TV interviews in the course of her high profile job made me a very proud husband indeed

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11. So as I head towards our next programme of work which includes the No Boundaries Conference in February and then Pilot’s co-production with the Theatre Royal Stratford East, Derby Theatre and York Theatre Royal of a new version of Antigone adapted by Roy Williams, I feel very excited and privileged to be making this work…so watch this space for more updates and…

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12. Onwards and Upwards my friends…

BBFC Certificate 15 for ‘The Knife That Killed Me’ #TKTKM (very strong language, strong sex references, strong violence, drug use)

30 Aug

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BBFC film description and certification here

BBFCINSIGHT very strong language, strong sex references, strong violence, drug use

GENRE(S) Drama

DIRECTOR(S) Marcus Romer,Kit Monkman

CAST INCLUDES Jack McMullen,  Reece Dinsdale,  Jamie Shelton,  Oliver Lee,  Haruka Abe

SUMMARY THE KNIFE THAT KILLED ME is a British drama about teenage gang conflict and the pressures faced by a young man starting at a new school.

CUT All known versions of this work passed uncut.

Here you go – all the strong words in the film in one clump – passed uncut

BLOODY, SH*T, F*CKED UP, CHRIST ALMIGHTY, CR*P, F*CKING, C*CK, W*NKER, SH*T, MEATHEAD GOBSH*TES, C*CK, P*SS, W*NKER, T*SSER, SL*G, W*NKER, LOSER, PAUL FARTERMAN, FILTHY DOG, SH*T, FILTHY DOG, YOU’RE DEAD, RED SCUM, MAKE IM SH*T IMSEN, RED SCUM, B*TTY BOY, MORON, MENTALIST, OLD B*TCH, *RSEWIPE, LITTLE P*FF, CRETIN, SH*T, WEASLY LITTLE TW*T, APE MAN, P*SSY, TW*T, F*CK, SH*T, WHAT THE HELL, B*TTY B*TTY BOY, BLOODY MORON, P*SSY, F*CK OFF, B*TCH, APESH*T, B*LL*CKS, GUT ROT, COKE HEAD, FOR GOD’S SAKE, SUCKS C*CK, SUCKS C*CK, W*NKER, SH*T, KICKED THE SH*T OUT OF ME, FINGER UP HIS *RSE, DOG SH*GGERS, T*SSER, I COULDN’T GIVE A SH*T, D*CK, D*CKHEADS, LOSER, LANKY TW*AT, CHIEF B*MMER, FEISTY B*TCH, B*TCH, CROGGY DOG, THICK TW*T, CHICKEN SH*T, DOG SN*GGER, DOG D*CK SUCKER, SH*T STICKS, WHINY LITTLE SH*T, HE SH*T HIMSELF, SH*T STAINED DAD, CHICKEN SH*T DAD, GUTS ROTTING, YOU LIKE SUCKING YOUR DAD’S C*CK, BAST*RDS, SH*TTING TW*TTING C*CKING AR*EHOLE BAST*RDS,, PSYCHO TW*T, F*CKING STICK IT, SH*T WORK, STINKING F*CKING HANDS, WA*KER, SH*T, SH*GGING, TW*T, SH*T SH*T SH*T, SH*T, P*SSING RAIN, F*CKING SH*T, SHUT THE F*CK UP, SH*T OFF, LOAD OF CR*P, WHAT SH*TTING DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE, F*CKING, I HEARD YOU SH*T YOURSELF, F*CKING, PATHETIC TW*T, BAS*TRD, F*CK, F*CKING C*NT, LITTLE SH*TE, F*CKING DEAD, P*SSIES, SH*T EMSELVES, PR*CK, BLEEDING CHRISTMAS, CHICKEN SH*TS, P**FS, SL*T, DIRTY WH*RE, B*TCH, SPINELESS W*NKER, SL*G, SH*T, B*LLOCKS, TAKING THE P*SS, YOU’RE TOO FAT TO BE A FREAK, P*SS OFF, SH*T, P*SS OFF, TRACK RATS, APE MAN, C*CK LOVER, YOU DON’T F*CKING GET IT, PATHETIC W*NKER, LOAD OF SH*T, PATHETIC *RSEHOLE BULLY, W*NKER, B*STARDS, SH*T, TOO F*CKING LATE, F*CKING ANIMAL, CHRIST.

A rather good view from The Pilot Theatre office today…

20 Aug

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…looks good today – we are back and up and running – and with two sets of great news about our work. Our role as Cultural Leaders with an emphasis on our local and International work have been confirmed today with two great pieces of news

Firstly, we have secured a 2 year contract with the City of York Council to deliver a programme of livestreams. Here we will deliver the Council meetings as part of their open democracy and innovation strategy. This is very exciting news as it really reaffirms our role as a theatre organisation with civic and Cultural responsibilities. Together with the City Council we are providing leadership and increased opportunities for engagement for the whole of York and Yorkshire – hence for our audiences and participants too.

Secondly our EU funding bid with our partners Elsinor Theatre in Milan, and O’Bando Theatre in Lisbon has been successful. Which means we will be making work in Australia and Vancouver, which looks at emigration and movement of European peoples. Working with two theatre companies in Canada, and one in Sydney, we will create work to be presented at Sydney Opera House which will then travel to Vancouver, Canada, Lisbon, Portugal, Milan, Italy and York, England over the next three years.

Both of these initiatives are the result of our approach to making work in partnership with other organisations. A strength of Pilot Theatre, as we have always made work with other organisations. Which is why…

Thirdly, our Blood+Chocolate co-production with SlungLow and York Theatre Royal is now in pre-production – we are excitedly heading into rehearsals in September, and all the teams are working really hard to make this an extraordinary event for the cast of 170 and the 140 strong community support team. This is a true partnership project for the City of York…so a good reason to see the trailer again…