A Singer’s Warmup? There’s an app for that.

Ed: Thanks to Queensland Conservatorium final year Musical Theatre major Connor Sweeney who has road-tested a couple of popular vocal warmup apps for Greenroom. Connor has indicated the pros and cons of each in the article below. By the way, there are lots and lots out there. Check the link at the end of the article. Thanks, Connor.

A performer’s warm up should leave him or her in a focused, optimistic emotional state, with awareness of the body’s strengths and weaknesses to work on for the day. A good warmup needs to be more than a hasty throat clearing after the first cappuccino of the day. Continue reading A Singer’s Warmup? There’s an app for that.

David Walters (Interview 27)

I’m conscious that this interview has been quite a while in the write-up. Of course, I have no one to blame but myself and the busy-ness of life since I sat down to talk with David Walters beside a cosy fire after a delicious dinner on the last day of July. However, I’m also going to blame him (at least in part) for the vast amount of fascinating material I’ve had to sift through; I recorded our chat and took copious notes that night.

David Walters is a softly-spoken, articulate, and passionate raconteur. He is also particularly modest about his own achievements and I had to probe to find out more about his work. That night he was genuinely enthusiastic in sharing his vast knowledge on the subject of light itself, something that clearly engages him. What I had thought would be a simple chat about his work as a lighting designer and the challenges of Water Wars – the show we were both then working on – became a wonderfully rich tutorial for me on the philosophy of light, technology, art, and sustainability.

I feel privileged to be where I am right now. I have at my disposal ways of creating light no one else has ever had.

As we get started, David sets the scene like an expert tale-teller. He riffs on the philosophy of light as a metaphor for goodness and knowledge, and moves on to the social history of light creation.

In order to light cities some species of whales were hunted to extinction for their oil, and I learn that the probably well-lit streets of Denmark in the 16-17 centuries were fragrant with the smell of cod-liver oil! Candles were once a marker of wealth – ‘Staying up all night was very fashionable in the 18th century,’ he tells me, ‘if you could afford it.’ Such conspicuous consumption means that one night’s revelling could burn up the equivalent of a worker’s annual salary. However, this form of lighting was also a sustainable product. ‘People ate their tallow candles when times got hard.’ We head then towards the introduction of gas lighting, and I find out why ‘limelight‘ got its name. We move right along in lighting history to the coming of the incandescent bulb and the invention of whole new kinds of light throughout the 20th century. This culminated in the development of the LED (light-emitting diode) which, David tells me, has been around for a while, at least since the 1990s. ‘We’ve learned how to mix white via the RGB spectrum but,’ he notes, ‘LEDs were not very powerful or useful.’ Apparently it just took a bit longer to learn how to ‘cajole more light from them using chemical elements.’ At the mention of physics, my eyes may well have glazed over, so David moved on swiftly to art history. Continue reading David Walters (Interview 27)

Dear Brisbane Theatre … Who’s the media?

As I write this, an Arts Queensland sponsored tech forum ‘LowFi’ is just finishing up in Brisbane. I was due to attend what was planned as a day-long gathering of speakers, workshops and quick conversations on digital media and its application in the arts. I couldn’t make it so I’ve been following the proceedings today via hashtag on Twitter. Some of the tweets sang the social-media mantra re developing relationships with ‘customers,’ and not just using social media as a marketing add-on. Yes, of course, but the strategies and the actual daily process of using social media for marketing – for getting the word out and engaging with potential and current audience members – are still being discovered and developed. In a time when arts coverage appears to be receiving less coverage in ‘big media’ there is both challenge and opportunity for individual theatre companies to change the landscape of the wider media modus operandi. (The embedded tweets below are from today’s LowFi twitter stream)

#lowfi it's not just about digital marketing guys!
@LeahBarclay
Leah Barclay
RT @ 'All online interaction is a performance of some kind' @ at #lowfi #LoFi
@alexadsett
Alex Adsett

At a gathering of pre-show theatre barflies downstairs from !MetroArts in Verve Café (in the dark corner up the end) the conversation turned last Saturday night to the local buzz – barflies are good at buzz. One fly was heard to say how exciting it all was – that very night audiences would be able to see a couple of shows back to back if they chose to, and wouldn’t more late-night theatre in the city in small, welcoming venues be a thrill? Another opined that Brisbane was a get up and go to bed early town so, maybe not. Another was quite hopeful but felt that it would take time for people to get used to the idea. It was all about building audiences – that’s the challenge – all agreed. Of course, the barflies buzzed on about other things like the quality of the work being seen around the city, and so on. It was time for the first show, and then the second, but then … Continue reading Dear Brisbane Theatre … Who’s the media?

QR Codes: bus-shelters, drink cans, awards ceremonies – fancy a bit of fun?

This post is something different – a little bit of social networking experimentation. Just say you were at an awards ceremony equipped with your smart phone but you don’t, for whatever reason, have a list of the nominees, and you wanted to be able to share the results as they were announced to those who are not there. Would you like something on your phone to do this? Do you dare have your phone on during the ceremony? Of course you do. Just put it on silent and turn down the screen brightness.

A quik segue about QR codes first; they’re those square barcode-like images that you’ve seen perhaps without knowing what they are. They’re on websites, of course, but also on bus-stop billboards, the sides of drink cans, in programmes – to name a few. The potential for arts organisations’ marketing – special deals for your followers, up to date and additional useful information – is huge. You could put an entire program and extra notes, for example, in a QR image or put one on your show’s posters and flyers. Just imagine! The paper saving is enough reason to give it a try. The implications for design layout are intriguing as well.

What you need to translate the black and white squiggles into meaningful matter is an app called a QR (Quick Response) Reader installed on your phone – there are lots free for downloading. Now you can scan QR Codes wherever you find them: using our example from a website which would lead you to where there was a list of the nominees for the awards ceremony. In a few seconds you will have the page or post containing the information right there on your phone.

Like this one …

qrcode

 

So, if you want to play, the first thing to do is to get the QR reader installed on your phone. Go to the iTunes store where you will find a slew of them – free and paid. Download the one you want and install it on your smart phone. I’m using QR Reader for the iPhone. As with lots of free apps you have to put up with a reasonably non-intrusive ad at the top of the screen. Paid QR readers are ad-free.

Open the QR Reader app on your phone, scan the QR code in this post, and admire the result.

PS This QR image (above) leads to all the nominees for tonight’s Matilda Awards.  Now you can follow along if you miss out on a programme – or just show how truly geeky – aka ahead of the pack – you really are.

If you want to know how to embed and use QR codes for your own use, check out the 2amt blog post from August last year: What’s a Theatre To Do? and get some ideas. I believe there’s a follow-up post to this coming soon.

If you’re ready to have a go at embedding QR codes on your own materials, then you can’t do any simpler than Kaywa, which generates the code you need to embed in your blog or site. I did this to generate the code above. I  typed in the URL of the nominees’ page on the Matilda’s site, hit the ‘generate QR code’ button, and pasted it in this post.

Ready for some tweet-reviews?

Talk about leading the pack! Greenroom wrote about this last November. We thought we’d strut our stuff and republish our comments from back then as La Boite Theatre encourages its audiences to tweet their reviews of I Love You Bro’ opening this week at the Roundhouse. No tweeting during the show now, unless of course you sit in the back row and get permission first, as @h_suarez did for King Lear at QPAC recently. Hannah Suarez, incidentally, is the social networking savvy marketing director for The Brisbane Festival.
There’s been some swift (rather than considered) responses from the social networking crowd in the last 24 hours or so about whether or not tweeting during a show should be ‘allowed.’  This was sparked by queries from La Boite and Bell Shakespeare in Twitter and on Facebook. We smell marketing departments at work! 
In response, the FB crowd have said ‘No way,’ and, hardly surprisingly, the Twitter crew were more open-minded.  Always good to challenge received practice and the status quo in the arts though, isn’t it?
We can’t wait to see which theatre here will be the first either to allocate back rows or declare an ‘open-twitter’ performance for those who wish to tweet and carry on the conversation during a show – without disturbing the performers or rest of the audience of course. A passing phase maybe? Who would dare to predict …

29 November, 2009
Eurobeat: almost Eurovision opens at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre this week for a season through December 5.  QPAC is hosting a gathering before the opening performance on Wednesday.  They’re calling it Eurotweet and have invited a flock of ‘Twitterati’ who will get to tweet their thoughts before, during, and after what we hear is a very funny show – ‘don’t wear mascara to Eurobeat’ says their website.   The audience will also be using their mobile phones to vote the winners.  Could this be a first for Brisbane theatre?  Might it be a last?  Somehow, we think not … a monster has been unleased. Continue reading Ready for some tweet-reviews?

Social Media and Theatre: it’s ROE not ROI that matters!

It’s return on engagement and not return on investment that Devon Smith‘s research shows is possibly the best way of considering social media and its current use by theatres in the United States.  I’m betting it’s much the same here.

Building audiences – which for many marketing managers equates to selling tickets – is really a mid to long-term strategy, and that’s about building relationships – building loyalty and long-term engagement between the organisation and individuals (near and far).  And for those hungry marketing managers/producers, Smith notes that you are going to sell tickets at your website, and it’s social media will assist in driving the traffic there.

Theatres in Brisbane and some further afield in regional Queensland are getting the social media message, albeit slowly.  Their websites invite visitors to follow via their Facebook pages,  Twitter feeds, and YouTube channels – to name the big three in social media.  Few yet have gone the way of the blog, which is a pity, as it’s a great way for a company to engage in conversation.  As Smith says in this smart slide presentation (below) given this week at the TCG (Theatre Communications Group) Conference in the US, a company blog linked to your website is a surefire way of managing conversation, whether or not they are saying good or bad things about you.  She notes that, of course, they will say bad things anyway, so why not manage it at a central point.  It’s archived too when it’s on your own site.

Check the last couple of slides for further resources on social media and theatre.

And here’s Leon Cain who is currently in rehearsal for La Boite Theatre’s next production I Love You Bro’! Leon will be posting an entry in the company’s YouTube Channel every day – this is the first.  Given the ubiquity of  YouTube – again see Smith’s facts and figures in the slide show – this is a clever strategy to engage with potential audiences and to spread the word about just what does go on backstage.  And, of course, the video blog (aka vlog) is another, perhaps even more engaging and personal way of  managing the conversation.  Good job La Boite!

View more presentations from Devon Smith.

Devon Smith’s blog: 24 Usable Hours – where numbers meet art