The Company Theatre’s powerful on-line videos for The Test (now running at The Berkeley Street Theatre in co-production with Canadian Stage) had me hooked from the start. Interviews with co-artistic directors Philip Riccio and Allan Hawco, candid scenes from rehearsals, commentary as the show evolved from director Jason Byrne, cast members Eric Peterson, Sonja Smits, Riccio and others: I found them enthralling.
Company Theatre’s four-part “documentary series”, directed by Mike Schultz, is a great example of recent promotional efforts of this type, memorably including Alameda Theatre’s “blogumentaries” for The Refugee Hotel’s premiere at Passe Muraille. Starting with “We have 12 weeks until opening night”, Alameda’s videos were a captivating and suspenseful play-by-play on the challenges and joys of getting the show up.
Promotional videos like these were a hot topic at one of Creative Trust’s Lunch and Learns, co-hosted with TAPA, around using new technologies to promote performing arts events. Michael Murphy and Marilo Nunez (Artistic Director of Alameda Theatre) talked about their experiences using video and showed examples of what could be done with an inexpensive camera, a few resources and a little staff time.
At the time we were asking ourselves whether these “few resources and a little staff time” (let’s not kid ourselves!) were well spent. While the question of whether promotional videos like The Company Theatre’s and Alameda’s result in an uptick in sales is important – and I, for one, brought three friends to The Refugee Hotel – these videos offer a unique window into the artistic process, bringing audiences into intimate connection and true engagement with the artists and company.