Tag Archives: audience development

Digital Archaeology – building the future archives for the Arts

23 Aug
cc Big Data Water Wordscape by Marius B

cc Big Data Water Wordscape by Marius B

One of the key things I have been thinking about and working on is how the digital data of projects and work we have made will form part of the future of archaeology. How the data will relate to the spaces and the collective memories of artists, participants and audiences.

This has formed part of my thinking whilst working on the Unesco project for York, which was was recently designated the first City of Media Arts in the UK, as part of the global Creative Cities Network. Here the city joins a network of 68 other creative cities across the world with designations which include – music, film, design, food, literature, folk art and our own, media arts.

For me the definition of what constitutes media arts is broad and far reaching and it involves the integration of new media technologies into creative practice and social exchange. This includes disciplines such as video games, computer animation, digital and interactive art, sound art, film, television and theatre.

It is clear to many, that that there is a strong heritage and archaeological emphasis on York’s historical past within the City. For many visitors this is a key aspect of their visit – to see the Minster, the Jorvik Viking centre, the Roman foundations, the Mediaeval Walls or the National Railway Museum to name but a few.

But in this historical DNA of the City runs a bright seam of innovation, be they the Roman water systems, the railway engineering or more clearly the stained glass windows of York Minster. It is here we need to stop and think about those windows, and realise that they were of course the cinema, internet and television of their day. Their use of light, space, story was extraordinary and provided a shifting and colourful storytelling experience.

They were the media arts of their day.

Which is why I am keen to explore the future possibilities of how we can evolve the experiences and social interactions that the media arts can create. Sharing stories on and offline, in spaces and places can help to embed and build the future memories and narratives for us all. The data of these interactions through sharing of pictures, stories, images, vines, videos, all tagged and geo-located will help to form the future archives and provide rich digital archaeological seam for future generations to discover.

It is key that Artists and Arts organisations come to realise their role in the work that they make and how they can help to build these future archives digitally and make them available and accessible. It is their connection with audiences and participants to help to build and grow these vast connections with data, stories and memories of the work that has been made and what is has meant to be part of it.

I am not able to walk up the steps of my office at Pilot Theatre without the memory of the HD projection of our co-production of Blood + Chocolate onto the building back in 2013. I am going to add to the digital archaeological heritage of the city by tagging this picture of my office below.Blood+ChocolatePilotTheatre

Marcus Romer – Artistic Director – Pilot Theatre

 York City of Media Arts

Making theatre? for me it’s all about the audience… #Theatre #audiences #Kingston14

30 Mar

kingston-14-press-2-ltor-trevor-laird-goldie-brian-bovell-photo-by-robert-day-149

I had one of those moments last night when I realised what this theatre stuff was really all about. Again.

I saw the first preview of Roy Williams’ new play, Kingston 14 at Stratford East. This is a really strong and important piece of work, and the first night audience gave it the applause and response it truly deserved. When I say audience, I mean the people who were there that night. The groups of individuals, couples, families, all who had come out on a Friday night to see something that had been made for them. A new piece of work that said ‘this is for you, these are characters that you may recognise, and relate to their stories’.

This particular theatre encourages first time attenders to come to the previews from the borough – if you haven’t been to Stratford East before it costs just £2.50 to see the show for a preview. Consequently the theatre was sold out, the show and its relationship to its local audience was electric. Riotous laughter and reaffirmations one moment to hear a pin drop tension the next. This is what this theatre stuff can do. And here at Stratford East, it does it very well indeed.

The audience were a reflection of the creative team and the cast on stage. It really is that simple. If you don’t see it on stage, it’s highly unlikely you will see it in your audience. Think about it – It’s not rocket science, it’s rocket salad. If it’s not in the bag you’re not going to get it on your plate.

Initiatives, audience development schemes, all that stuff is all very well, but if the work you make, and who you make it with, doesn’t reflect who you are making it for – then it is doomed to fail. Some theatres are too risk averse to think outside their own comfort zones, and as Nii Sackey said at our recent No Boundaries event – ‘Theatres need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable’ This is a key concept and vital to the whole nature of how we make and share our work.

This play, the theatre it was premiered in and the team that made it have clearly got this right, as was demonstrated by the reaction from the audience last night. Testament to the fact that this had to be made.

I am glad that Kerry Michael, Artistic Director of Stratford East, had the foresight, and determination to pick this play up and to produce it – otherwise that audience on that first night would never have had the opportunity to see this come to life. He knew that his audience deserved to see this work, and for it to have a four week run.

This is about a mutual trust between artists and the communities that the theatre serves. The history of this building has long roots and connections that stretch back to the work of Joan Littlewood and the Theatre Workshop that created a theatre for its communities. In the shifting times of developments and building around the theatre, this legacy still continues.

I have also have always made work in this same way. The audiences we want to see for Pilot’s work are reflected by the cast and creative teams we work with. It really is that straightforward. Roy and I have collaborated together for a good few years now, and we are currently working on his new version of Antigone that we are making for Pilot, with Derby Theatre and the Theatre Royal Stratford East to this venue next January and February 2015 for 4 weeks, and we are looking forward to making something new and very special for the audiences who come and see it.