As the COVID-19 pandemic begins to fade in the US, flexibility has never been more important to the world of theatre. Especially where increasing the impact of your hybrid or virtual performance is concerned.
Going forward, your audience expects a mix of in-person and online productions. And providing these hybrid event experiences has the potential to impact your bottom line. Regardless of which performances you choose to use in 2021, here are a few strategies to improve your initiative.
Live theatrical performance can be a central part of your theatre program today. But it has to be safely produced so all cast, crew, and audience members involved can enjoy these performances with minimal risk, especially in the coming months as vaccine rollout continues.
Which is why it’s important to consider three new models and whether or not they’re safer than traditional shows:
- Virtual performance models that rely on video conferencing applications
- Outdoor performances where social distancing is easier
- In-person, onstage performances streamed live to an online audience
Also, spacing your productions out over a longer period of time gives more community members a chance to attend your performances. Or, to team up with a partner or venue with a larger seating capacity to ensure your audience’s safety.
Whatever you choose, here are a few other important tips, trends, and strategies you need to think about if your goal is to get back to in-person performances in 2021:
- Whenever possible, require masks to be worn and adhere to CDC guidelines for handling and sanitizing them.
- Calculate acceptable audience attendance based on house capacity that ensures 6-foot social distancing rules are enforced.
- Educate audience members on health rules and expectations through website, social media channels, online ticket purchase alerts, emails, push notifications, and signage leading to as well as at the event.
- Require one universally followed set of safety guidelines.
- Require all patrons to undergo temperature checks before entering the theatre, wear masks throughout the performance, and follow pre-marked pathways of entrance in and out of the theatre.
- Provide hand sanitizer in the lobby and restrooms so all public areas are clean prior to and after every performance according to CDC-approved guidelines.
- Sanitize all set pieces and props before and after the performances.
- Advise audience members to limit clustering in groups before the production begins, during intermission, and afterwards.
- Backstage: masks should be worn at all times, all technical hardware should be sanitized both before and after any performance or rehearsal, limit the number of people in any room/area per federal guidelines, and be prepared to assist in contract tracing
Undoubtedly, livestreaming and video on demand present a new wave of digital communication, content promotion, and viewer consumption. Its growing in popularity and adding millions of new people into the fold every day.
Beyond the addictive content format, however, livestreaming presents a creative way to drive revenue through new performances. However, live streamed performances can present some unique challenges for directors, producers, and casts to deliver the best audience experience possible.
Enter Video On Demand (VOD). For virtual theatre producers, a pre-recorded video puts less pressure than a live performance on your shoulders. Giving you more opportunities to entertain the audience and get your viewer experience right.
While it may not feel natural to live theatre pros, in most cases VOD is the way to go. This format delivers more opportunities to excel while eliminating the pressure to perform live.
Wi-Fi latency and internet speeds vary from one household to the next. Meaning it’s impossible to satisfy 100% of any stream audience’s demands. There’s going to be lag, technical glitches, and other unavoidable challenges that can ruin viewer immersion in an instant.
Capturing your virtual performances ahead of time frees you from unfair criticism for connectivity problems out of your control. Plus, it fits the on-demand lifestyle of most digital consumers too. In addition, pre-recorded performances give you the opportunity to tailor the video experience for an at-home audience, as so many saw was possible in the Disney+ presentation of Hamilton.
Where you intend for your audience to watch is another factor that should influence your decision-making. As a production viewed at-home as opposed to on-stage, there are a ton of new technical and strategic challenges that need to be considered. However, a combination of both approaches looks to be the most promising moving forward.
By promoting a variety of virtual performance types instead of just one, you give your audience the best every theatre experience has to offer. And the more dynamic your content is, the more likely someone in your audience is to keep coming back.
So, which events benefit your business most?
Simultaneous in-person performance and stream
Delivering a livestream performance alongside an actual stage show is an impressive feat. Especially if your goal is to reach as many people as possible. But it comes with some bundled risk, because there’s essentially two events for things to go wrong.
Increasingly, theatre producers are turning to pre-recorded videos as their go-to for delivering content. Because they come with less inherent technical risk and deliver the ability to consume content at an individual pace rather than at a set time, VODs are the best performance type to consistently grow your audience and revenue streams.
Online only in-person performance
A live, online performance makes it easy to reach new people and receive real-time feedback. But what happens if your followers can’t find them? Or if your schedule doesn’t fit theirs? Online-only in-person events are exciting, but they work best as a part of your overall strategy. Not as its sole focus.
When it comes to the strategies today’s best theatre producers use, we’re just getting started. Get a free demo of On The Stage's end-to-end ticketing, promotion, livestreaming, video-on-demand, and merchandising software today to see how easy it can be to deliver a performance in any format.