Theatre Feed

Show Me - who I am

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I recently attended a 4 day festival of workshops for creative producers. I am a creative producer.

During the sessions there was, each time the invitation from the host the ever humble Chris Grady opportunity to introduce ourselves to the group in the Zoom chat.

I regularly find myself meeting talented and passionate people each effortlessly introduce themselves. Their name and an appropriately length regaling of recent projects followed by an off the cuff insight to the driving force behind their drive to produce work.

I am not good at this! I did settle upon a version my growing confidence can offer here at the close of April 2021.

Hello I’m Caron, based in Long Eaton in the East Midlands. I’m a theatre maker, and digital events producer. Exploring immersive hybrid experiences and non binary identities. Unashamedly dyslexic.

That’s me right now. I never feel my accomplishments add anything to my prospects or I should say I don’t feel they impress upon anyone. It’s work and I enjoy it but there’s nothing special in what I do and few people know who I worked for or care.

My destination is more important interesting than my origin.

My aspirations are to create a live immersive performance stage for plays, storytelling and musicals that is hi tech with a low carbon footprint with a pinch of crypto.

NFT’s ... minty!!!


Sound Me a Story... and Zoom

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Digital Stagemanagement duties were front and centre today. Show timings, title slides, spotlights, sound checks, original sound, practice sessions, webinar attendance and panelist’s and... a live venue with a remote audience. 

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Most of what I do is make sure things happen as smoothly as possible and with little complication. 

In Zoom webinar it’s most important that I know what each participant sees be they a guest on screen or a member of the audience. Optimising the best view is not always easy. I need to see what the majority sees. In webinar that is straight forward. In Meeting it’s a little harder as attendees can toggle between speaker and gallery. Spotlight is your friend. Follow Hosts View and Hide Non Participants make uniform viewing a little easier.


Performance for All - one point at a time. Lunchtime Livestream S4 | E1

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The first guests of the series joined me today. UtopiaArts’ Frances Rifkin and Graham Lucas talked 

Fringe, Forum, Small-Scale, Independent Theatre was the focus. Finding a focus on which to discuss Equity’s Performance for All Policy has taken focus in itself.

It’s full of context. It’s extensively referenced. It’s a little booklet with mighty ambitions. It’s scope is incomprehensibly transformative.

One section resonated most as I dissected and reflected on my corner of the industry called Show Business. A section relevant to every other section.

Section 7 on page 20 of the Performance for All booklet - http://bit.ly/equity-fp19

Democratising Funding and Decision Making
All 10 sections of the policy are split in two parts. First a collection of data (stats, quotes and statements) and the second a series of policies Equity want to realise to... in the words of the current political climate... ‘Build Back Better’.

Policies ideals are cited “Autonomous, equitable and accountable funding and creative leadership.” The Performance for All policy asks for an expanded, fairly-balanced, socially responsive, democratic cultural provision with out reductions to funding in the capital. Its talks of rebalancing through an increased arts allocation.

It goes on to reinforce the independent sector... “often innovative and community oriented should be further developed and seen for what it is - An established and key part of cultural provision and source of employment.

The entire gamut from community to commercial. Inner London to the Outer Hebrides.
How that might be approached references a 2016 report

“Contributing to the national cultural policy debate”

http://www.gpsculture.co.uk/next-steps.php

Today’s livestream looked in brief at one element of the policy. It covers film, theatre, tv, Variety and games.

It was conceived before Covid in a pre pandemic digital resistance.

What is next?

Check out the livestream episode

Annotated...

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Video Help Desk for your Digital Events

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I have been on HelpDesk duty today.

With multiple-sessioned events like festivals, across multiple platforms for attendees, guests, speakers, performers and crew the thing that is painfully absent with digital and its zeros and ones is the corridors, the greenroom, the watercooler, the bar and the liminal spaces.

The space between the spaces.

QuiQuo do this well and event wrappers have potential to accommodate this but to date these wrappers have been outside my budget and production timescale. Digital Stagemanagement and the production consulting tend to be too late in the precession for me to augment in these options. 

A single help desk is the first step. It becomes an anchor point between physical and digital in-person encounters. It’s a point of real present. This I can do with Whereby. I have 10 rooms some are on loan to groups and some like this help desk for SparkFestival is a special hosting.

This was my toolset today

  • Whereby - a super simple easy access for first time tech shy audiences. I settled on this platform prior to COVID when another app to download or service to sign up to was enough to stifle or demotivate any engagement.
  • Splashtop xDisplay - connects a second device to enable monitoring while focusing on your main screen.
  • iPad as a second screen with xDisplay - an old iPad 2 connects to extend your desktop. I use this on a stand on my desk for ficus timer and for general social media and news notifications. 

Finally I have 2 documents prepared specifically for this help desk. A festival reference with all the info including ticket links and zoom access links to each performance or workshop and a intro guide to Whereby as a help desk including a outline of the visitor experience.

  1. Helpdesk document - Festival Programme (private document not available to share)
  2. Helpdesk document - How To for team staffing - http://bit.ly/pcm-helpdesk-sparkfestival

This service is integral to my Extended The Audience offering when compiling extended audience packages. If you want to know more please get in touch.

I must also thank Alison Rouse who staffed the majority of the sessions enabling me to focus on the main digital auditorium as Zoom controller throughout the opening days of the festival.


Note To Self - 01

New thing learnt today.

Zoom closed captions using Otter can be turned on or off but not while sharing your screen.

Why did I find this out?

Today’s Sketchbook of Vital Ideas event today one of the videos being screened contained baked in subtitles. The artist asked if the auto generated caption could be paused. I checked and Yes.

Time came and I shared the video. All good. It was playing and the chat was quiet so I turned to pausing the captions only to discover in screen-share mode there was no CC access on the toolbar.

I only remembered this when the second video was screened and I was already in screen-share mode!

Note to self. In future if captions need to be paused. Add this as an action before actioning the screen-share.

Otter transcription and closed captions - 1 month free with code OTTER_TRIAL https://otter.ai/referrals/O598JJY5

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Digital Stagemanager’s Zoom checklist

#SparkFestival

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Audience checklist
Everything you want to know to get the most from the SparkFestival experience.

Festival Brochure - Everything to apply the audience checklist to!

Then there is my behind the scenes checklist to make my job smooth primarily for my own sanity but ultimately for a smooth audience experience.

My Digital Stage Management (when using Zoom)Barebones Check List

  • Holding - title slide (proverbial house tabs!)
  • Music - as the audience enter and settles
  • Activate Otter captions/transcription - plug in service on Zoom for on screen auto generating subtitles
  • Continuity announcement - Greetings, CC, get the best, SafeSpaces, looking after chat, Welcome.
  • Co-Host - back-up connected host incase DigiSM interwebs break
  • The half - 30 mins before opening the zoom space / admitting attendees from the waiting room to check all present and correct.
  • Hiding Non Participants - with zoom meetings when audience cameras are off hiding the blank video windows tidys up the host view and recorded media captured.
  • Waiting Room - before all is set it’s nice not having the audience wander in before ready to start. Camera off, waiting in the proverbial wings!
  • Clearance - Audience in and ready to roll. The message messaged to indicate the music will fade and curtain (holding slide) with raise.
  • Announcement & pre-show roll - The branding and bumper bits for consistency and polish.Emergency monitoring - Just in case bad things happen with the hosting connection a standby procedure should be prepared. A technical difficulty virtual background for the co-host or a slide.
  • Chat Monitoring - if bad stuff posted in chat and a keen eye must be directed on the chat. Engagement can be established here too. Call and response, Questions for the guests?
  • Show/Event ends - a plan for the end of the show
  • Post-show Play-out - Goodbye and thank you while the on screen talent waits in the wings for the audience to leave.
  • Closedown - when the audience leaves the curtain falls. An audience can stay and chat but eventually you have to end the party!

Part of the producing part of my job is creating on brand screen assets. For Spark that’s static title slides and animated pre and post show bumper videos. I produced the audio track with 2 children Max and Addi and thier Mum. They were amazing.

Pre-show reel

Post-show reel




Closed Captions the easy way with Zubtitles

One good imperative to come from online events, meetings, performances and conferences precipitated by the Covid pandemic is the recognition that accessibility online is not only respectful and supremely possible but opens doors to previously excluded audiences.

Audiences as entire communities. Communities have cohesive dialogue. Provision before attendance must be in balance.

Closed Captions are the most prevalent support for access. Attention for the provision need the allocation of resources and time. 

For real time transcription and subtitles I use Otter. For captioning I have discovered Zubtitles. Brilliant. Styled and baked onto videos or generate srt files slit timed to perfection to upload to video hosting. 

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https://zubtitle.com/?via=caron

Referal code - ICH027

Yes it’s true captions enable videos to be watch on mute but for those needing the facility for access it’s an overture of equality. It’s an even playing field.

I have started including voicing readings of the newsletters I produce for Equity’s Online Branch. I will include them in my own.

I would like to learn British Sign Language too. I am looking to establish connection to include sign interpretation on projects in the future. It’s only with these provision supports in place can the communities participate with ease.

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Zoom in music mode.

I am a reluctancy user of Zoom for professional purposes. But since the first lockdown Zoom has stepped unto the plate in terms of developing the necessaries to improve the audience experience as well as improve the way we manage the technical delivery of Zoom beyond its intended function of a meeting platform.

The biggest step has been in managing audio. The nature of the internet does mean latency, the speed data varies being sent and received, differs between connections so sycronising music where singing or play back is needed simultaneous at the receiving end is hard and pretty much impossible in many cases the more receiving points are expected.

The biggest challenge is instructing Zoom not to process sound on our behalf. By default zoom intelligently processes the noise in our immediate environment reducing background sounds and focusing on the human voice.

Playing instruments, playing music and talking while playing music in fitness or dance classes plays havoc with zoom. Zoom settings are not always easy to access or should I say easy to cover as they reside in several locations and some cascade while others set president.

This is the most comprehensive video I have found to date. Zoom updates and moves items while only revealing others once remote settings have been activated! Oh yeah that’s a thing!

Zoom High Fidelity Music Mode for Online Music Lessons

Extract from the video show notes. 

Be sure to read them in full and subscribe to The Music Repo channel.

“Zoom now has High Fidelity Music Mode! Zoom have recently released a new update with enhanced audio settings for musicians. Discover how to set up Zoom for teaching music using the new High Fidelity Music Setting.”

This video is a complete update on Jane’s previous video on how to set up Zoom in Music Mode, and includes some brand new sections and information based data and feedback and FAQs from here community.

She even provides time stamps to help viewers navigate the video.

00:00 Intro

02:05 Zoom Desktop Client Settings

07:28 How to share audio files, computer sound and music streams in Zoom

08:32 How to set up Zoom for Stereo Audio

10:43 Zoom Mobile App Settings

11:24 Zoom latency and sync issues - live collaboration is not possible in Zoom, but there are some other strategies you could use instead


After watching and learning so much from the channel it was from this Zoom audio video I discovered her proximity to Nottingham. I can’t wait for lock down to end so I can buy this woman a coffee. It sure is a small world.

You can get a more detailed post on Zoom in Music Mode from fellow East Midlander, Jane Sherratt’s website

The Music Repo web site is a treasure trove for helpful guides, hints tips and more on setting up your home recording studio.

Check out Jane’s Music Repo Channel on YouTube

Jane, if you read this, thank you.

I have set up sound desks following engineers instruction and operated sound on small theatre shows. Not until now have never felt I understand it contextually. *hat tip*


The Art of Reclaimed Time

A large part of wanting to be more mindful was to reduce the mindlessness. The time between the times I start reflecting on being mindful. The awareness of mindlessness was predominantly associate with mobile device activity and more specifically when scrolling through and checking notifications in Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Over the years, I have been on social media since 2007 I have noticed I engage less and less. Since lockdown the mindlessness was becoming mind numbing. I craved coherent hashtags with dialog, insight and debate which often came with conference coverage. I was finding less and less I wanted to read.

Selecting Mindfulness was also an attempt to reactivate my attention span. Work life balance can’t be living what you do enough to merge it without reluctance into your leisure.

Time to craft and make is one think I wanted to find time for. Reading fiction and non fiction is another.

I have felt this weekend with the mindfulness during my working week the compulsion to create for the first time in a long time. I alway take material with me on holiday to prepare for craft time. Crochet and Circle Loom knitting are my handcrafts. I like to make hats and bags. Cost of materials and time just prevented me doing them. I have materials on hand but not for a big project. I need to know I have the time and mindset to make and complete a project. 
Then there is skill and practice. There is a refresh needed and an attention required. There are accommodations for Dyslexia too. Counting is difficult and a slower pace is usually necessity.
I have been swatching.

I have leant a new crochet technique.

Here are the swatches
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This pattern led crochet is called Mosaic Crochet. I’ll be using the oddments of wool to practice before exploring colour and patterns 

My inspiration is series on YouTube.

Tinna Þórudóttir ÞorvaldarTextile artist and crochet designer from Iceland. Crochet, embroidery, yarnbombs and just all kinds of colorful happiness. All my links here:linktr.ee/Tinna


Producers Pool - Dates in the Diary pt1

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Towards the end of 2019 I was introduced to the concept of the Portfolio Career and it was a mindset game changer.

2019 was also the year I asked myself, which I often do year on year - "If I won the lottery what would I do?" The answer has been the same for as long as I can remember. To fund and produce independent small scale theatre working with emerging artists and directors.

This time I accepted I’d probably never win the lottery but ya do want to do this.

I know my craft as a stagemanager, my digital learning and project experience has encompassed social media and associated productivity technologies, podcast audio recording and production, I can edit video.

Mobile live-streaming and virtual worlds. Audience and augmentation.

Technology and theatre.

Not for technology but for engaging immersive idea revealing story-driven theatre. Unusual productions in extraordinary spaces. A big part of the lottery dream is to have the money to fund it.

Then there is like-minded professional networking. Nothing is more aspirational than spending time talking, listening and strategically dreaming with fellow producers. All on differing trajectories in their own careers. A community of collaborators. A tribe of mentors.

Chris Grady hosts Producers Pool.

I was, since 2018 forever attempting to synchronise my meetings in London at Equity or events by Cybersalon to draw a three-card trick where I’d get to attend a Producers Pool, Equity meeting and a Cybersalon event. Trump card would be to fit in a theatre show too.

I would augment my attendance at events on occasion, to showcase remote access potential. The immersion in ground-based experience made the strategic split to include cloud-based access hard to make happen when I was the on needing access and not providing the access which was the ultimate aim, to extend attendance.


The value and reward of cloud access were invisible to physical organisers. The concept appealed but in practice, the management of the physical event was enough.

Blending Digital and Physical looked to be a pipe dream. Then came Covid. One of the first to embrace the opportunity to pivot to digital was Producers Pool. Hurrah!

So independent producers and theatre-makers meeting monthly often with an influencing peer speaking currently happens online.

What do you have to offer?

What do you need?

This leads to the momentum and mindfulness of conversations. 

What can I offer? Insights, experience and practice to pivot to digital. What do I need? The blending back to physical with gradually lowering balanced percentage extension option to attend either way and get the same influencer insights and networking dialogue.

I don’t ask much! Am I asking too much?

Monthly on the last Wednesday, until further notice starting January 27th if you are interested in joining Producers Pool find your way to the Facebook Group.

For the mindfully invested. 

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The journey starts here www.chrisgrady.org/producers-pool
Producers' Pool (UK & International) - next meeting 4.30 pm Wed 27th January