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In the great digital theatre pivot of the past year and a half, theatres were thrust into using a technology that was probably foreign to their regular tech and artistic staff. Now virtual shows presented via live streaming or video-on-demand have become a new normal for theatres and audiences. If you were not an early adopter (either by chance or choice) of this sudden streaming boom, the reality is that theatre professionals will eventually have to learn these technologies themselves or hire people who already know them. If you’ve been resisting adding streaming technologies to your personal skillset or your theatre company, this blog is for you. Here are a few reasons why now is a great time for theatre professionals to learn streaming technologies.
Digital theatre is no longer just for archival storage. While it might be easy to pass off digital theatre as something for the future, the future is already here. What was previously considered a luxury (or reserved for Broadway On Demand or National Theatre Live) is quickly becoming a necessity for many companies. Because of the pandemic, a quick digital pivot to streaming technologies has been one of the only things keeping some theatres in business.
Theatre companies have been using video for years in social media and other advertising. Many companies already have a YouTube channel for posting video content, and trailers for plays have become a growing trend. Adding streaming technology to your skillset might be a logical next step in your technological evolution personally or for your company.
While nothing can take the place of live, in-person theatre, digital programming is quickly becoming an asset the theatre industry wishes it had implemented sooner. Offering a streaming option increases accessibility to theatrical productions in a way that wasn’t utilized before, particularly for audience members with mobility challenges or people who use closed captioning.
Upgrading your technology to include streaming productions will keep your theatre company current and offer more flexibility with how you interact with your audiences and your community. In-person theatre is limited to local audiences and those who can attend from out of town, not to mention your house size. Your company’s digital offerings can be seen by a global audience, and you don’t have to go anywhere or sell cheap seats with obstructed views. We advocate for a hybrid model where both live performances and digital options are offered to your audiences.
Also: audiences are already used to streaming. It was normalized very quickly because for most of the past year, it has been the only option. While streaming may be new to your theatre company, it’s not new to your audience. If you worry that it’s not what your audience wants, they’re already doing it. A recent study on streaming showed that 55% of households subscribe to more than one streaming service. So it’s likely that your audience is already streaming entertainment at home, and it might as well include a production from your company.
Most crises, like the COVID pandemic, are completely unexpected. Now that we are more aware than ever that these things can actually happen, it is essential that theatre companies establish a contingency plan for the future. If your theatre venue becomes damaged in a natural disaster or otherwise needs to close suddenly, having options such as a Zoom performance or streaming an archived production could be the difference between the life and death of the organization.
Stage managers for Zoom productions, for example, are a new role that we didn’t anticipate. Tasks like muting/unmuting, spotlighting and pinning tiles require coordination and learning that were not taught in school, at least not until this past year. Are you staying current or ahead of new and lasting trends that are moving into your neck of the theatre industry? When it comes to your skillset, whether you’re a founding member of a theatre where you currently work or you’re a theatre professional who does contract work, knowing the technological ins and outs of how to stage, film, process, and stream a digital performance will make you an asset to any company.
Ready or not, virtual theatre is here to stay. Let On the Stage show you how to add streaming technology to your theatre company’s digital toolbox. Our all-in-one platform is easy to use and offers everything you need from streaming to ticketing, video-on-demand, and more!
Book a demo today!