Theatre Feed

Connecting to your stars - audience engagement

What is the modern equivalent of the famous visiting-star photo wall in the theatrical local drinking establishment?

It has struck me that audience development dialogue rarely mentions the personalities who visit their venues and a continuing interest of what becomes of them. Is this not the gift of social connection inherent to social media, maintaining connections. Do you think of making social connections to follow visiting companies and the company members? Actors now have a community connection opportunity with each other after companies part ways like never before.

I envy the current touring community with in the entertainment industry for this digital connectivity. Sadly I'm not sure how much they are able to make use of it to it full potential. The reality is that inside the performance world of the industry there is not a strong IT savvy community. Generally if you are successful your IT skills are weak. Unless you have a technology leaning computers are a bit of a mystery. Smart phones have opened a new world of communication. That a large proportion are excellent at, communication and reflected self expression. A world of potential. The fragmented duel personality segmentation of private and public, personal and professional, the digital world demand we negotiate is familiar ground and executed with exquisite ease by the best actors working in theatre.

This is especially true of actors who work in independant theatre. By Independant I mean organisations using the Independant Theatre Council contract or should be if they of a certain size. It includes theatre-in-education companies, rural, small and mid scale touring.

What is this opportunity for art centres with performance spaces?
What promotional opportunities does this present to the theatre companies?
What opportunities does this provide actors?

Celebrity is so remote. It is distant admiration with little possibility of reciprocation. The companies booked to fill a schedule bring with them talented performers, each has a story each is on a journey perusing their chosen career as a working actor. They have a personal and professional outlook. It may not be well defined online so be respectful. Social media is about people not marketing strategy. You need a strategy to layout objectives and establish achievements but for social media content you need stories and the development of stories to maintain engagement.

While I toured, especially to art centres and village halls the organiser often welcomed back actors who had visited on previous occasions with other theatre companies. They are your celebrities. It's not only about being on 'telly', actors emerging on broadcast media have begun a career either in theatre or low budget films. A theatre company returning to a venue with a new production may contain established cast members but many actors will move on and explore artistic avenues.

Whether you develop a rappor with returning actors or follow others as they climb their career ladders it's an opportunity that can sustain a social media community, the (your) audience. You are their connection to the stars.

Indirectly you will benefit working actors you connect with connecting them to the people they perform for. It's a link I think is lacking at present from my observation with audience development professionals.

They are your venues' flesh and blood attraction.

Connecting to your stars - audience engagement

Connecting to your stars - audience engagement

When a star dies... How can the show go on?

Yes the adage holds true "the show must go on". To make that happen props, costume and setting are as vital as lights, camera and action. Today I headed up to Derby Road. So many small pieces of theatre set dressing and costume accessories were sourced from TopHat and the numerous bric a brac stops that lined the street. Steep Hill in Lincoln is a joy of secondhand books so Derby Road was to dressing prop acquisitions. Devastated it's all gone.
In February next year I'm running a workshop looking at how social media is influencing the role and function of Stage Managers at the SMA Stage Management Association's first annual conference.
My thinking is starting here. As an old landscape disappears the role of the Web is both a social and professional lifeline in these modern times. Explore and discuss.

When a star dies... How can the show go on?

The Darkened City - A digital theatre experience

Theatre, live performance. The smell of the grease paint, the roar of the crowd! Good theatre starts with a great story. Tallented actors can pull off a poor script but its rare. Can theatre be delivered through the medium of social media? I'm going to find out. The information below is all I have to go on. I have signed up and I am curious and cynical in the same breath. The new wave of digtal participation has inplication for the theatre and those who work within the industry. This excites me. I want to part of it. I want to share it. I want to experience it. Will I feel like a lone audience member? Does that matter?

The Darkened City « marcuslilleyartist

‘The Darkened City’ is A Neo – Noir Transmedia Theatre performance taking place from Monday the 12th of September 2011 till Friday 16th of September 2011 as part of ‘Process at Play’ arts festival.

Inspired by Film Noir’s such as ‘Double Indemnity’ (1944) ‘Sweet Smell of success’ (1957) ‘The Big Heat’ (1953) and more recent Neo Noir’s such as ‘LA Confidential’ (1997) ‘Sin City’ (2005) and ‘Shutter Island’ (2010) ‘The Darkened City’ is a theatre performance which presents a city full of corruption, bribery, violence, sex and where no one however innocent they may seem is ever entirely trust-worthy. Also inspired by the work of photographers such as: Arthur ‘Weegee’ Fellig and Gregory Crewdson

Told through tweets, emails photos, live performance, installation and exhibition, ‘The Darkened City’ is an immersive, interactive theatre performance taking place in a fictional city where the rules are there to be broken, corruption is rife, and everyone is out for their own personal gain.

Pap-flyerfinal-front The ‘Darkened City’ begins at 8pm on Monday 12th of September 2011 at Live at LICA (Lancaster University) in Lancaster and concludes on Friday 16th of September at 12pm

For anyone who cannot make it to Lancaster the experience takes place through social media and mobile technology so it can be experienced anywhere. Just email your twitter username, email address and contact mobile number to participate.

To sign up to the performance please email: with your email address, mobile number and a twitter username.

For further information on the event please click here:

For further information on ‘Process at Play’ please click here:

--- The Rules ---

The Darkened City

(Monday 12th September 8pm till Friday 16th September 2011  12pm)

Artist: Marcus Lilley (@marcuslilley) (


You can participate as much or as little as you like throughout the week.

There are four characters:-

Harry Marshall / Veronica Haywood / ‘Example’ / George Miller 

The Twitter username you need to follow is: @marshall_harry (!/marshall_harry

Follow the hashtag: #thedarkenedcity 

You will receive text messages from: Harry Marshall 

Phone number: 07809 748261

You will receive emails from:

A Police Detective called George Miller:

Veronica Haywood:

Please remember to check inbox and check as non – spam.

  • In order to participate fully, you must provide a twitter username, an email address and a mobile phone / text number (or if you do not have a twitter username, visit Harry’s Twitter page twice a day)
  •  The entire performance is experienced remotely, via these methods of communication. However, please feel free to interact with the characters if you wish via these means.
  • You will receive text messages, emails, and tweets throughout the week (Monday 12th September to 12pm on Friday 16th September)
  • You should check your email account and Twitter page at least twice a day.
*Any issues or problems during the week should be reported to Marcus Lilley (


Livescribe - old media meet new technology

"Don't add technology to way you do things. Change the way you do things when you know what technology can do" A quote I use throughout my presentations and workshops. Its part of what I refer to as foundation thinking. Thanks go to Marcus Romer, artistic director of Pilot Theatre for this line of genius.

Way back in 2007 at the launch of the newly negotiated Equity ITC contract agreement at Hampstead Theatre I had conversation that ignited my social media journey and restructured by business. It's Marcus's fault that I joined Facebook! The conversation and consequent collaboration took me in to Second Life and entwined my life irrevocably with this social media phenomenon.

I upgrade my technology when I discover features or learn of functions my current tool set or equipment can't provide. This has driven my mobile phone upgrades and it has now inspired my upgrade from paper note book to Live Scribe. - cool little pen thing for those that take notes.

I can still write notes and draft blog posts. Now I can transfer the text to my computer, archive and search my notebooks. With the MyScribe app I can covert my written notes in to editable text. Review of iPhone Applications for Arts and Culture


There is an app for everything! I want the apps that are interesting to me. I've been looking at iPhone apps in anticipation for the arrival of my new iPhone. I'm particularly interested in apps for the arts. I don't get to see as much theatre as I'd like. I don't see as much art as I'd like. My time, my free time is valuable and I am quite solitary. This collection of apps for the arts I can't wait to explore. Any arts and culture app suggestions for audience experience I'd love you to post links. I'm also on the look out for arts and entertainment industry supporting apps too. Do you develop iPhone apps please let me know.

Equity@Edinburgh 2009: Your voice, Your chance

Equity@EdinburghEquity is in Edinburgh from Aug 24 - 29...The Facebook group

The most important session for practitioners to influence their sector is on 27/08/09 Working in Independent Theatre – the Essentials - 1400-1600 Free (ticketed) at Festival Theatre, 13-19 Nicholson Street (venue 244).

Sadly it will be the least well attended. Social Media has no visibility in the ITC (Independent Theatre Council) contract or the Fringe contract at present I would like to see that change.

For example
  • Enabling audiences to share and promote our productions with targeted material.
  • Payments for Live Streamed performances.
  • Guidelines to protect copyright using more flexible CC creative commons licenses
  • Guidelines for online conduct within social media for company members

Please find time to fit this one in your diary. You do not have to be an equity member or working or ever worked on an ITC contract. Come and share your concerns, experiences and needs for a theatre contract for digital age.

I will be there.

Footloose and Fancy Free

Where it all began. My home audience. The reason I do what I do.

I recently write this article for the SMA - The Stagemanagement Association. It should have been a blog article but I never posted it. Here it is.

Article written by Caron Lyon. Published in Feb 2009 issue of Cueline.

Social Media Mainstream

Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Ebay, Wikipedia, all words that have crashed in to our vocabulary in the last year or so. All these services are advances in the way we interact with the Internet. Social Media, another new word, is an Internet phenomenon it is hard to escape, a phenomenon firmly embedded in the computer culture. Great if you have a home computer or a computer on your desk at work and of course an Internet connection but for Stage Managers who spend most of their working time off line this online culture is a world many of us have little time for. For many of us the Internet is a research tool that means we aren't confined to one edition of the Yellow Pages when propping or dependent on the local library for research now Wikipedia is here. Ebay is another service that has made propping a little easier for those in the know. Electronic mail, Email, another tool we either love or loathe, when we have access to it. Word processor applications mean we can type up rehearsal notes and create call sheets, save them, distribute them by email or print them. BUT...You have to be at a computer and connected to the Internet to do most of that and the departments we send our emails to have to check their email. In the end it is easier to post notices on a notice board in the Green Room or at Stage Door, get books from the library and source props locally. Another problem is that actors don't have desks and don't have desktop computers, so the good old notice board is the most effective and efficient method of communication Stage Managers have. But think of a world with out mobile phones. Now that is a piece of technology love it or loath it is inconceivable to think about how we got by without. OK, So... this Social Media stuff. What exactly is it, and why do I care? Social media is defined by Websters online dictionary as “the online tools and platforms that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives with each other. Social media can take many different forms, including text, images, audio, and video. Popular social mediums include blogs, message boards, podcasts, wikis, and vlogs.” Will it become a thing that in years to come we look back on and wonder how we got by without. As a whole NO but it's a massive arena and there are parts of the phenomenon that will give back aspects of our life we currently sacrifice. It will offer us resources and services we never imagined. It will add aspects to out jobs in the near future we would rather do without. So being aware of this technological advance is important. For example. How many times have we finished contracts and said “Let’s stay in touch”. I remember a time when most of my friends were mobile phone numbers I scrolled through thinking, “I wonder what they are doing now”. The advent of social media and social networking sites like Facebook means we can create Facebook groups, add friends to our profiles, log in to Facebook and declare the same... “I wonder what they are doing now” but now we can see and comment and wonder no more but in all not very useful to our working lives as Stage Managers. There is more, so much more. In August 2008 I was invited by Equity to deliver a presentation about this phenomenon for the Edinburgh Fringe. It was called “How to use Social Media to Get Connected, Get Noticed and Get Work.” The slideshow is online to view. In November I delivered a presentation to MDDA (Manchester Digital Development Agency) called “Mobile Marvels” looking specifically at how Arts Practitioners can use mobile phones to do the same. In future editions of Cueline I'll be looking at some of these Social Media platforms and hopefully giving SMA members some new tools and useful services to add to their repertoire, help improve the work life balance to communicate with loved ones, new friends and old, to use the Internet as a resource while out on tour, how to document and archive productions, answer questions like what is blogging, micro-blogging, podcasting. This Social Media stuff falls in to 3 categories:

  • Ways to Publish Information
  • Ways to Share Information
  • Ways to Network and Connect with others

Next Cueline will look at Facebook and social networks, followed by Twitter and micro-blogging, LinkedIn and business networking, Flickr and photo sharing, YouTube and video, Qik and mobile live streaming, Ning and online communities, Delicious and social bookmarking in future issues. There is a great glossary in Equity's New Media Deals booklet on page 24 giving definitions of all these new words and digital concepts in the context of the Entertainment Industry. Social Media is a voyage of discovery. A favourite quote of mine “Don't add technology to the way you do things, change the way you do things when you see what the technology can do.” Marcus Romer, Artistic Director of Pilot Theatre Company. In future issues of Cueline I'll also be looking at ways theatre companies are embracing Social Media starting with Pilot. After all I am their virtual Stage Manager but that's another article! (Future article mentioned will also appear in the ACE & Amb:IT:ion digital opportunities networks and here too)

Equity@Edinburgh - pt 2


With the workshop completed I had a clear head to take in some shows. The amount of shows available is some what over whelming. It’s never going to be possible to see every show you want to see especially when like me you only have 3 days. So I took the flash card approach. When I arrived at the Festival last night the Edinburgh program awaited me on my bed. The Fringe program is divided in to sections Children's Shows, Comedy, Dance & Physical Theatre, Events, Exhibitions, Music, Musicals & Opera and Theatre. The sections I focused on was Theatre and Dance & Physical Theatre. Plays and Shows with multimedia, visual and auditory spectacle, experiences. I then skim read those sections, marking with a star the ones that caught my eye and marked with 2 stars the ones I definitely had to see. Last year (my first visit to the Fringe) I discovered Social Media theatre seeing MySpace the musical. This year I found productions telling cautionary tales of the evolving on line world, the absurdity of the working world and how converging technology injects humor and surreal abstraction to daily life. Reflecting on the modern world theatre is a powerful and as relevant medium for social commentary as it ever was. Politically dogmatic plays synonymous with the fringe movements roots in the 60’s and 70’s have given way to the observation of the changing world. May be my interest in IT makes those shows stand out.

I decided to experiment with the N95 media phone, QIK, Flixwagon and live streaming. I love the notion of maintaining a dynamic fresh web presence using services and tool that free the blogger from the desktop PC, live bogging… doing stuff rather that I did stuff. Here are the “to camera” pieces I did daily to capture for myself and invite viewers to my join my journey. I am no film maker and hate appearing in camera so its also a cathartic process of pushing past the discomfort I feel doing them. Not sure I will ever get over it but the ends justify the means. It’s a great way to engage and being such a visual person I want to show and share.

Shift Happens - part 3 - Where worlds collide.

Tom Fleming -

Take a look at his presentation's slides

Tom Fleming was speaker number 1 a consultant and academic specialising in research, strategy and policy for the cultural and creative economy. Wow! His focus (his biog told) me lies in establishing the climate for creativity, innovation, collaboration, and business growth. Tom has recently completed 'The case for 'mixed art-form and media venues' in the digital age'. An in-depth study to develop a better understanding of the role of 'bricks and mortar' infrastructure at a time of increasing digitisation in the processes of creative production and consumption and at a time when public value-concerns are paramount for policy makers.

Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy works to develop creative policy and infrastructure that is fit for purpose in an age where creativity and innovation, the physical and the virtual, the consumption and the production, the social and the commercial, are increasingly interdependent.

This Tom told us means focusing on the spaces and places that enable creativity to thrive and add value against a range of agendas - from the social to the economic, the intrinsic to the instrumental.

Twittered with my laptop on my lap for this session trying to give the twitter stream an informed account of the session. I am curious to know how twitter can be used for events and progress reporting. With Twitters embeddable widget in a web page is it possible to give a coherent running commentary?

Here are my Twitters on the specially set up Pilot Theatre twitter accountPilot logo

  • Tom Flemming our first speaker
  • Creative Britain - new talent for the new economy.
  • How can there be culture and economy?
  • Creative spaces
  • Creative infrastructure
  • Role of bricks and mortar spaces in the digital age
  • Mixed media centres crucial
  • Cinema at the core of multi platform shifts
  • Transforming venues Mass media to me media
  • Welcome new tweeters
  • Creative places. Where do the creative people go?
  • Connecting with audiences
  • Connecting with generations
  • "tennantspin" building community beyond buildings
  • Physical and digital spaces
  • Where does integration take place?
  • This is todays event
  • bringing together worlds
  • Developed brand, became a meeting place, built reputation and innovation
  • What creative practice is at your heart?
  • Developing experiences is the notion. Connectivity. Purpose
  • Current speaker Tom Fleming
  • Are buildings fit for purpose. Cultural producers in the digital age.

From this experience of applying online channels for live coverage during an event I am rapidly becoming an advocate for a Social Media specialist handling online interaction if they are going to provide a valuable experience for the online audience. As a stagemanager I have operated lights, sound, pyrotechnics, talkback and cue lights to facilitate the seamless operation of a theatre production. Any event running a virtual feed inviting online participation must have an operators full attention.

Shift Happens - part 2 - The Sound Exchange

This is the second post from Pilot Theatre's Shift Happens.

The Sound Exchange has archived digital files to download for ever note on every instrument in the orchestra. Go see... well go listen I guess is more appropriate. This presentation made me think of all my techy audio geeks so this one is for you guys. For those with out the kit to play with digital sound sample Sound Exchange have developed an application on the website so you to can join in the fun.

Richard Slaney as a speaker at this live entertainment industry and converging technologies conference was inspired. Rather than an academic insight to the benefits of Social Media this was a presentation about just how it's being used and incorporated in to the companies business strategy. Its all about bums on seats!

Richard Slaney studied music at King's College London, before freelancing in AV systems and web design. So music is in his blood. He manages the orchestra's education website The Sound Exchange. With the emergance of social media platforms his role expanded to include all of the orchestra's online activity, a monthly video podcast series and bespoke audio digital projects such as the 2006 PLAY.orchestra which appeared outside London's Southbank Centre.

56 plastic cubes and 3 Hotspots were laid out on a full size orchestra stage, each cube containing a light and speaker.

Sitting down on the cubes or standing in the hotspots turned on an individual instrument and with the addition of 58 friends you could hear the full piece.
 bluetooth logo
The installation was also Bluetooth enabled - allowing participants to receive a ringtone of the piece they had created as well as other Philharmonia Orchestra ringtones.

Technology and art forms working together, using the emerging technology in creative and innovative way to keep live performance alive. is the main website