Digital Theatre Transformation: A Case Study and Digital Toolkit for Small to Mid-Scale Theatres in England

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: English

Abstract

This project aims to provide a roadmap for local and regional companies that will enable them to bring furloughed staff back onto their payroll and develop new ways of working, in terms of administration and creative output, that are less building-dependent and that enable flexible modes of working to mitigate the impacts of Covid-19 on local and regional theatres.

The project investigates and learns the lessons from the success of Creation Theatre (Oxford), together with Big Telly (Northern Ireland) in rapidly transforming their business model and theatre practice from local/regional face-to-face immersive location-based performance to a distributed home-working model that brings the interactive and immersive elements of their theatre work online through the Zoom platform, with a national and even international reach.

Through a quantitative analysis of existing digital audience datasets, supplemented by new qualitative questionnaires and audience interviews, the project explores the impact of Creation Theatre's Zoom production of The Tempest on its audiences and its ability to impart digital skillsets along with a sense of well-being and community. A comparative analysis of audience responses to pre-recorded and live performances will furthermore answer vital questions about the relative commercial value of the live experience. The outcomes of this research will rapidly be published and disseminated through professional associations.

Working with representatives of Equity (UK trade union for creative practitioners), our team will moreover develop guidelines for digital home-working that take account of the technical and ethical impacts of the change in working practices and environments on staff.

Publications

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