Tag Archives: Stratford East

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

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

30 Mar

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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.