Tag Archives: theatre

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

Fairground Attraction – ‘Try the Guns…?’ #blogpost

30 Jun

Try The Guns

‘Try the Guns’ the – sign said…I was cycling passed the Green in Histon today and I noticed it had changed. This struck me, not just as an odd thing to say, or to write on a sign, but more that it immediately transported me back to a time where I once fired an automatic machine gun into blanket between 2 lamp posts in Albania, as part of a fairground activity – but that comes later. So as you can see I have always had a real attraction to fairgrounds, especially the deserted places and spaces long forgotten and unloved. One of my first encounters was the deserted dodgem car shack in Shipley Glen in Yorkshire. Stepping off the rickety funicular railway built originally for Bradfordians to rise to the top of the moor to take the air, the deserted funfair was always a special treat…

scrappynw

The shrouded dodgems and the leaky roof on a misty November morning are really quite something to see. So this is where I started my obsession when we moved to Bradford back in 1996 – and thanks to ScrappyNW on Flickr for this image. So today, in Histon the light was perfect, and I wanted to grab some shots to capture the atmosphere – and to help bring back some of that story that had been lurking there since 1999 – in Albania. Today the Hook a Giant was a new one on me…

Hook A Giant

And the dodgems, whilst active were still great in the temporary structure that only the other day had been hauled off the back of the truck and this of course brought back to me, the story about being in the fairground in Albania…

Histon Dodgems

So back to the story of the ‘try the guns’  it was back in 1999 – we took a show to Albania. The civil war with Kosovo had ended only months before and the UN had only just left. It was a cold October morning and we headed out from the National Theatre in Tirana, where we were performing, for a day out in Durres, which is on the coast and just a mere hop across the sea to Corfu. Here the deserted strip had not seen visitors for some time. The derelict and recently burned out Dodgems was still operational. But with only one car, yes just the one Dodgem. With nothing to dodge. A solitary dodgem. Not really worth going on really. What with having nothing to dodge and all.

So the Dodgem guy said ‘would I like to do something else?’ Wary I smiled and sort of nodded. At this he reached behind his desk and pulled out an automatic weapon. I stopped smiling. But a big grin came over his golden crowned teeth and he pointed to a rough set of army blankets tied between two lamp posts on the sea fronted prom. ‘For you’ he said and handed me the machine gun. He led me over to the front and sure enough told me to shoot the blanket. I shook my head and did a kind of ‘OOH it’s really interesting, but you see I’m just a theatre director and I was just over here – from you know, England…’ kind of look – and then he grabbed the gun, which was still in my hands, and sprayed a deafening roar of automatic rounds into the now dancing blankets.
I nearly messed myself. Loud? yep really bloody loud. I nodded, thanked him and backed away, having handed back the blanket killing machine. And I gave a sort nod which I hope tried to say ‘good luck with your dodgem during the winter season’ and I turned and tailed it and ran like hell.

So you see my obsession with these places is really a matter of life and death to me these days. It’s that simple…

So it was with great delight to get back – alive. So, a few years later on holiday in France, I was to discover this beauty on the Ile d’Oleron – a real tide gone out gem. From 1900. A two seated only Big Wheel…

Big Wheel France

Where the only thing I can imagine as a source of nightmares would be – that I was in one seat and the gold toothed smiling dodgem owner from Durres was in the other and smiling down and telling me to ‘Try the Guns’

Pilot Theatre – International Connections….

9 Mar

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As a company, armed with ipads and notebooks, we have been getting out and about recently and making some stuff happen.

As I write four members of the Pilot team are away in Drammen, Norway for the final meeting of our EU network – Platform 11+ – So Amanda Smith, Mark Beasley, Sarah Rorke and Associate artist, Tom Bellerby are putting the final touches to the network’s evaluation as well as opening the show that Tom directed, called ‘Face Me’ which will perform there, as the last country in its 6 country tour, with actors from 4 different countries. The network has involved 11 countries, and we have visited them all…International? yes indeed.

Tom has been busy, not just in his role with Pilot – attending the TMA touring conference, as well as his position as creative engagement co-ordinator for the Touring Consortium, but also, his Edinburgh hit show ‘Beulah’ will hit the Arts Theatre at the end of March as part of its UK tour. So new work? yes indeed.

We have also just completed the premiere tour of Running on The Cracks – directed by Associate Director, Katie Posner – A cracking show in co-production with the Tron in Glasgow – which has picked up 4* and 5 * reviews all along the way  and again a touring team with actors with their roots from all over the globe.

This way of approaching our work and developing opportunities and International connections now runs through the organisation’s DNA. Indeed I have been fortunate to recently attend the TED conference in Los Angeles and Palm Springs. Here I was in a room with attendees from more than 70 different countries, sharing ideas, thinking and making some serious shift happen…

In fact I have met several key speakers for our Shift Happens conference that we are running on July 8th in York. So in addition to the line up here I will be adding speakers from New York, Australia, and LA. The conference hosted 52 TED talks –  I saw them all – so as they release one every week – I saw a whole year of talks in one week – like a high protein shot of ideas, thinking and new stuff. Lots of new stuff…This is always inspiring and good to get a different perspective on the issues and situations we face on a daily basis. I have posted some of the TED talks on this blog and will continue to do so as and when they come out.

So the team has not just been away – we have been filming too…Liam has been revisiting his acting roots on a new movie and has been on location all week before hitting the ground again with our Blood and Chocolate project with SlungLow. I too have just finished working on the pickup shoot and ADR recording session for The Knife That Killed Me. We are on the final stretch for this now and we deliver to Universal Pictures at the end of March. The #TKTKM team are all working really hard and The Producer Thomas Mattinson and co-director Kit Monkman are working really hard with the visual effects team to finalise the 5 reels. We are then onto the final mix and grading before delivery.

So, as a company we have been away and making things happen – As Lyn Gardner referred to Pilot Theatre a multi-platform organisation – I can safely say that this is more and more the case these days as I look at the reach and connections we have been making recently. As Artistic Director of Pilot, I am immensely proud of the team and their diverse work and connections.

So whilst the funding outlook in the UK looks bleak – we are really opening up the connections to make our work resonate on a global scale, and are looking for people who want to share this journey to join us and share the conversation.

#onwardsandupwards