Tag Archives: digital

Actress Sharon Lawrence wants you to watch THE GAZE

My Shakespeare: the Bard’s online digital heartbeat

a place to consider what Shakespeare means to us today

Kate Tempest

myShakespeare is the digital home of the World Shakespeare Festival, a celebration of Shakespeare as the world’s playwright now underway in London through September, 2012.

Produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, in an unprecedented collaboration with leading UK and international arts organisations, and with Globe to Globe, a major international program produced by Shakespeare’s Globe, it’s the biggest celebration of Shakespeare ever staged.

Almost 60 partners are coming together to bring the Festival alive.  Thousands of artists from around the world are taking part in almost 70 productions, plus supporting events and exhibitions, right across the UK, including London, Stratford-upon-Avon, Newcastle/Gateshead, Birmingham, Wales and Scotland and online.

Measuring Shakespeare’s Digital Heartbeat

At myShakespeare artists and audiences interpret, recode and remix Shakespeare’s online world. It’s a creative space to share thoughts and ideas, revealing how his words, stories and characters continue to influence and reflect human life.

Why are the plays of Shakespeare still so powerful today as they were over 400 years ago?  “The stuff that we care about doesn’t change,” says UK actor, musician and comedian Tim Minchin. Take a look at Tim’s video explaining what myShakespeare is all about:

From every continent, myShakespeare has commissioned a series of artists to create new work. First on the site is rapper, poet and playwright, Kate Tempest from Southeast London.

Check out her video rap/poem, My Shakespeare.  It’s wonderful!

Who is your Shakespeare?

“Cyrano” Explores Love in the Age of Technology

Our upcoming world premiere  production of Cyrano is a funny and romantic tale about a brilliant deaf poet in love with a hearing woman. Set in a modern city, the play also dramatizes how technology helps and harms how we communicate. The influence of the internet — email, smart phones, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, texting, blogging — all play an important part in the story of Cyrano.

The new play asks some relevant questions about life and love in the Electronic Age:

  • Do all of our electronic devices make us feel more connected, or more alone?
  • Is it easier to text someone than have a real face-to-face conversation?
  • Is the “you” on your Facebook page or website or blog the real you? Are we our avatars?
  • What effect does all this technology have on our ability to have personal relationships? How does it influence our self esteem, how we see ourselves? How we perceive reality?

Since her pathbreaking The Second Self: Computers and The Human Spirit in 1984 psychologist and sociologist Sherry Turkle has been studying how technology changes not only what we do but who we are. In 1995’s Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, Turkle explored how the Internet provided new possibilities for exploring identity.

Described as “the Margaret Mead of digital cuture,” Turkle has now turned her attention to the world of social media and sociable robots. As she puts it, these are technologies that propose themselves “as the architect of our intimacies.” In her most recent book, Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other, Turkle argues that the social media we encounter on a daily basis are confronting us with a moment of temptation. Drawn by the illusion of companionship without the demands of intimacy, we confuse postings and online sharing with authentic communication. We are drawn to sacrifice conversation for mere connection. Turkle suggests that just because we grew up with the Internet, we tend to see it as all grown up, but it is not: Digital technology is still in its infancy and there is ample time for us to reshape how we build it and use it.

Enjoy This Video, as Turkle Asks: Are We Connected, But Alone?

Cyrano    April 28 – June 10  (323) 663-1525   More Info

Theater Apps for the iPad: “Want to Rehearse at my Pad”?

by Gordon Cox

Market grows for digital rehearsal, staging tools

There’s an app for that, as the saying goes. But an increasing number of entrepreneurial theater folk have noticed that for a lot of day-to-day legit work, there isn’t an app for that — and they’ve set about remedying the situation.

Take Jeff Whiting, the latest legiter to add the unlikely words “software developer” to his resume. As a director-choreographer who often works as Susan Stroman’s associate, he found himself slaving over exhaustive “show bibles” — detailed accounts of stage arrangements and actor movements, often totaling thousands of pages per show — so that a production can be reproduced on tour and in other incarnations.

“I’d been dreaming about ways I could make my life easier,” Whiting says. “I kept thinking, ‘This should be simple.’ It’s just there was no existing way to do it.”

Looking for a digital tool that could streamline the process, all Whiting could come up with was a jury-rigged combo of Power Point and Excel. What he really needed, he decided, was an iPad app — and so StageWrite, launching March 1, was born.

StageWrite

Whiting joins a handful of industry denizens in creating rehearsal-tool apps they’d use themselves. Two of the best-known apps for helping actors memorize lines, for instance, come from actors themselves — David H. Lawrence XVII (“Heroes”), who spearheaded the creation of Rehearsal, and J. Kevin Smith, the man behind Scene Partner.

“The dirty little secret is, if nobody ever bought the app and it was just me using it in my day-to-day life as an actor, I’d still be a happy dude,” Lawrence says.

As Whiting discovered, it ain’t easy creating and selling an app. He knew what he wanted, but guided by a friend in the tech industry, he had to seek out the Arizona-based team of programmers that he ended up hiring to do the coding.

There’s also a not-insignificant amount of money involved. Whiting, who capitalized StageWrite himself, says he had to pony up “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to bring the app to market.

The final product is a tool for creating, duplicating and editing the floorplan charts that, in a show bible, give a moment-to-moment, top-down view of where and when actors and set pieces move during a show. In beta tests during his day job, he’s already found it invaluable, talking up the potential, for instance, to email jpegs of the charts to swing performers, or to a regional lighting designer in advance of a touring production’s arrival.

But creation of an app isn’t the only hurdle; creators have to market it as well.

Different apps go after different demographics: StageWrite, for example, isn’t targeted to the masses. With a pricetag of around $200, the app is pitched as a professional tool to be used by those involved with sizable productions.

So far, Whiting has found that the relatively small size of the legit community has proven a plus, tubthumping for his new product among pros he knows. Whiting says he’s also gotten early interest from Sea World, Cirque du Soleil and the Olympic Committee.

Meanwhile, Scene Partner, priced at $4.99, is aimed at a different market. Creator Smith, who pairs his community-theater acting experience with a career as a direct marketer of tech products, targets amateur and pro thesps alike, saying he’s had a lot of luck hawking the app at young-thespian conferences around the country. The $20 Rehearsal, on the other hand, is optimized for working TV and film actors, as well as for legiters.

Among Scene Partner’s several features are a text-to-speech component that allows audio playback of cue lines for actors memorizing a part. With different tools but a similar goal, Rehearsal enables the highlighting of dialogue in digital scripts and the ability to record an actor’s own lines or fellow thesps’ cues, among other functions.

The rehearsal room’s shift into the digital realm jives with a trend that has seen playscript publishing houses also making recent moves into the marketplace. Late last year, Samuel French launched an e-book service, and barely a month later, Dramatists Play Service struck a deal with Scene Partner to make e-scripts available for use with the app (available at around $10 per play).

Both Whiting and Smith have plans for a suite of tools that will help actors, directors and designers do their work. And Smith anticipates further partnerships among legiters brave enough to step into the marketplace. “I think there’s going to be a lot of room for a lot of collaboration,” he says. “We’re all trying to make a viable business out of it.”

GordonCox writes for Variety.