The Experiment Worked!

We managed a live uninterrupted broadcast of Behna from the Khosa family’s home in Goldthorn Park – Wolverhampton. It was something new that none of the partners had tried before. A successful first for all involved.

The live chat before and after was an unexpected highlight of the event hosted by Deesho Auntie (aka Julia Rosenbaum who’s doing work experience with us). Strangers began to communicate with one another in anticipation of the play, a few during it and then for an hour afterwards offering immediate feedback. Our virtual Behna community were interacting with each other as they might have done if in a real theatre foyer. There was a tremendous amount of curiosity and support from many who were engaged.

Approx figures show that 133 individual computers logged on with many watching in small groups. The audience started at 80 from the outset, peaking 20-minutes in and then dropped to 80 by the end. Most users were in the UK, followed by Spain, US and Australia.

The online audience had a variable experience. This was dependent on their hardware and their previous exposure to live streams. Newcomers expected the output to be more slick. Those with some experience were more satisfied.

We had planned not to send the upstream at the highest quality possible as this would have excluded those with basic and dated hardware. In addition we were limited by the internet connection bandwidth possible at the home at that point in time, so couldn’t send variable streams catering for different users. Technically the sound could have been improved. Most users with high quality external speakers and/or headphones managed better with this.

If repeating in the future we would plan for more time to do test runs and experiment with sound and vision quality. And plan more time for the cameras and actors to rehearse together in the space. Of course this has time and budgetary constraints and needs to be managed carefully especially in someone else’s home. In all, a good and enjoyable experiment for all involved.

A range of audience comments:

Well done! Camera angles and live cutting between cameras was good. Hearing every word was difficult. Video quality could have been better, but was good enough for live feed standards.

I think that it was an interesting concept and set up a new sense of community online.

As words were essential to the drama it was a pity not to be actually hear them clearly. The style and location of the production meant interest couldn’t be sustained by visuals alone.

What I got to hear/see was beautifully acted. I’d love to see it again with sound! Youtube?

A very disappointing experience! The picture quality was awful and the sound quality was poor. My attention gradually shifted to watching for new webchat comments. I didn’t feel part of the production in any way and not engaged in the story.

A fresh concept in entertainment executed very well, considering the difficulty of getting technology to work for everyone.

Such a fascinating new way to access theatre. It felt really radical taking power away from the mainstream media to create ways to experience drama.

Post by Bobby Tiwana

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.