IF you think pressing the red button on your television console is the ultimate tool for alternative viewing choices, welcome to the future.
A future called The Space, “a new way to experience the arts on demand” online at thespace.org
This weekend, York’s ever progressive theatre, film and multi-media company Pilot Theatre will be working alongside Colchester company Kinura in a pioneering new project that will show York Mystery Plays 2012 live on the internet for one night only.
Pilot and Kinura won the funding contract from the BBC and Arts Council England to stream Saturday’s 7.30pm performance on no fewer than six different camera angles, preceded by interviews with cast and crew from 7pm.
“We like to think of ourselves as the York Guild of Digital Live-streamers,” says Pilot artistic director Marcus Romer.
“Saturday night will be access all areas. You can get views of the Plays you couldn’t get even if you were sitting on the front row.
“There’s an audio-described version by the Theatre Royal’s regular audio-description team; and hopefully there’s backstage audio from the desk of stage manager Clare Morse with roaming cameras on what’s going on out of view under the stage led by community producer Liam Evans-Ford.”
In layman’s terms, the six cameras will be filming throughout the three-hour performance and at the time of going to press, the exact make-up of the sextet of cameras positions was still under discussion with co-directors Damian Cruden and Paul Burbridge.
Among the possibilities are a “God/Jesus cam”, focusing on Ferdinand Kingsley in the lead role, and maybe even a “York cam”, filming the city from on high.
“The essential difference from the NT Live satellite screening of National Theatre plays at City Screen is that we have much more flexibility of camera angles,” says Marcus.
All the footage will be stored, and from next month – the exact date is yet to be confirmed – visitors to The Space can re-watch Saturday's show from different angles using a multi-camera stream. “That provides you with thousands of viewing possibilities,” says Marcus. “It enables creative input by the viewer, giving you your own personalised edit of the production.”
He is thrilled at the prospect of Saturday’s live feed online, the climax to a burgeoning partnership with Kinura. “York will be beamed around the world this weekend,” he says, with pride.
“We’ve worked with Kinura for the past four years on Pilot’s live-streaming projects, and they’ve built our streaming kit for pilot-theatre.tv. Now The Space is in development as a pilot scheme with the BBC and Arts Council as one of 50 such test projects in the country.
“Other projects include The John Peel Record Collection (CAPS CORRECT), and the idea is to push the boundaries by thinking about the arts as an ‘interactivity’.”
At present, the possibilities of The Space are still in their early stages but Marcus believes Saturday’s filming will be ground-breaking.
“On the night, you could go to the library to watch it or stream it on your mobile phone or your computer,” he says. “Afterwards, the filming we’ve done will become a living legacy of this year’s Mystery Plays.
“Ten years ago, it cost us £1,800 to burn one DVD for a Pilot show; now what we can do will make the TV red button look slow and clunky.”
The Space is further affirmation of Pilot’s desire to live up to the pioneering implications of the company name. “What we’ve always wanted to do is make going to the theatre never be the same again,” says Marcus.
Should Saturday’s weather be too inclement, Pilot Theatre and Kinura have a contingency plan in place to film Sunday’s 7.30pm show.