Technology is ingrained in society, a generation that now grow up learning to type at the same time as learning to write. The internet has given us all the ability for fast information at our fingertips, to utilise the digital world in new, innovative ways. Productions about this new age, or those that intrinsically involve it withinin the show, are a new genre of performance art.
With new concepts materialising all the time, it is vital that the theatre industry celebrates the successful ways used to contribute to the overall experience – the individuals and companies create, dream and implement novel ideas are vital in pushing to creative envelope ever further outward.
Enter Lucy Basaba and the Theatre & Technology Awards. Founder of the UK Blog Award winning site, TheatreFullStop.com, Lucy seeks to shine the spotlight on theatre creatives who utilise technology as a means to contribute to the theatrical experience. Half of the awards are open for the public to vote, with the other half being nominated and judged by a band of industry professionals.
I caught up with Lucy before the public voting closes on 30 June 2017, to see where the idea for these awards came from and to hear her successful journey, one that is instrinsically linked with technology, to date:
Why is it so important to recognise technology within theatre today?
We live in an age where tech is an integral part of a theatre production. There are numerous innovations happening in a range of fields and this needs to be celebrated. Technology can often be sidelined, however it can help to establish the tone of a show all the way through from its marketing campaign to the sound and lighting used.
What can the winners of the Theatre & Technology Awards look to gain?
These awards are the first of their kind so winners will become apart of an innovative initiative. It’s a chance for professionals in their fields to be celebrated for what they do – certain categories such as Best Production Photography and Best Podcast will be recognised and celebrated rather than being sidelined.
“It’s a chance for professionals in their fields to be celebrated for what they do”.
Tell me about the awards judges, those that have established incredible careers in each of the categories.
There are a total of 11 categories, and I’m very lucky to have brought together a talented and supportive judging panel. The judges include:
- Alistair Lindsay, founder of The Unusual Theatre Company and Lighting and Sound technician, who will be judging the Creative Innovation in Sound Category.
- The Offies Award winning Video Projection designer Shawn Soh will judge the Creative Innovation in Video Projection Category.
- Company Director of Triforce Promotions, Minnie Ayres will judge the Best Trailer Category.
- Commercial Theatre Photographer Richard Davenport will judge Best Production Photography Category.
- The Stage’s Career Advisor John Byrne will be judging the Best Podcast Category.
- Award winning writer Danielle Dash will judge the Best Live Streaming Platform Category.
- Founder of Afridiziak Magazine Sophia Jackson will judge the Best Online Publication Category.
- Digital Media Designer and founder of Tamassy Creative, Taiyo Nagano will judge the Best Poster Design Category.
- The Offies Awards Producer and all-round Theatre Maker Lauren Gauge will be judging the Best Marketing Category.
- Artistic Director of Tiata Fahodzi, Natalie Ibu will judge the Outstanding Theatre Production Category.
How important is it that other companies involved in the theatre industry support these awards?
Theatre is a collaborative venture so the involvement of other companies is key. I’ve teamed up with companies utilising tech to enhance the theatre goers experience as we all share the same vision. Tickets will become available on Billetto for the awards ceremony and Projected Image will very kindly create the awards that the winners will be given. Both have been great to collaborate with and it marks the beginning of a great partnership.
Tell me about your journey, how have you achieved the success you have today?
I started off writing theatre reviews for a friend’s blog in 2012. The blog is called Yin&Yang and talked about fashion, lifestyle, photography, film and theatre. Here I learned a lot from the two founders, they’d created something unique, brought like minded people together and collaborated with influential brands. To this day I’m inspired by their ethic.
In 2013 I did an editorial internship with Culture Shock for 3 months where I picked up many of the skills that to this day have helped in terms of how content is presented. Later on in July I created TheatreFullStop, a lone venture. It was a case of being thrown in at the deep end and learning on my feet. I contacted theatres from the very beginning asking if I could review their shows – the majority of theatres were very supportive and to this day I’m still in contact with them. I’ve since built up a team of reviewers, some in the U.K. and others abroad, which is great.
In 2016 I started up a podcast showcasing new writing, and in 2017 I introduced two events – the Pub Theatre Festival, showcasing emerging talent and the Theatre & Technology Awards, a celebration of the innovation and creativity within the theatre industry as a result of the digital age.
How has technology aided your own experiences as a theatre editor, writer and blogger?
Blogging has allowed for me to talk about something I really care about. Four years ago when I started up TheatreFullStop, I had no idea what it would later become. It was a chance to publish my opinions on shows, offering an alternative to mainstream publications. What’s lovely is that TheatreFullStop has an international as well as a national audience. Team members who have relocated to different parts of the world still write for the site, educating readers on theatre productions and events happening internationally. Blogging has helped to start conversations and being like minded people together.
How have you benefited from being a winner of the UK Blog Awards?
To even make the shortlist was a surprise, so winning was the icing on the cake really. TheatreFullStop was approaching its second birthday at the time and at that point I wasn’t as sure as to whether it was connecting with an audience. Winning definitely gave the team a confidence boost and made us realise we were onto something. We were the only theatre blog shortlisted for any of the categories so felt like a fish out of water. I’m glad our uniqueness stood out and the judges saw something in what we were doing.
What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring bloggers, theatre journalists or writers?
“You have to stay true to yourself, find what it is you are passionate about and figure out how you’d like to share information on that certain topic.”
Who are your inspirations, the people that give you the energy to keep going in this tough industry?
Apart from family who have taught me to never give up no matter what, I’d say friends; there were certain people who just got what TheatreFullStop was about and gave me the confidence to continue with it.
I’m a big fan of Triforce Promotions, the organisers of Monologue Slam. Their showcases have really helped to showcase the talents of emerging artists, allowing for anyone, no matter whether they’ve had drama training or not, to take to the stage and perform to a supportive audience.
Venues such as Sadler’s Wells, the Southbank Centre and the Arcola inspire me. They all programme international theatre and dance pieces further bridging the gap on what’s happening around the world.
Stratford Circus and Stratford East Theatre Royal were two venues I performed a lot in when I was younger. These venues have always been trail blazers when it comes to welcoming everyone, no matter your background and instilled in me that theatre brings communities together.
Voting for The Theatre & Technology Awards is open until 30 June 2017. For more information and to vote, please visit the website.