Hi there, Rachel here. As my previous blog mentioned, I made the choice to move from theatre’s boos and hisses to marketing’s data and storytelling, but sometimes your past is always there behind you… Oh yes it is!
After a year of working on a range of marketing projects for my master’s at the University of Hull, I initially thought I would move away from the sparkles of theatre when writing my dissertation. That was until my lecturer Peter Andrews said, “Do something that you are passionate about that you think you could bring a lot to.” I then found myself going back to my jazz hands theatre roots.
My knowledge of theatre in this region included the difficulties when getting funding and the challenge of marketing a show on a tight budget. I wanted to find a new way of engaging audience members who are in the Netlix era and primarily online, but how do you do that when theatre is a live experience?
After hours of reading previous research on arts marketing, I found a gap in the market. My idea was to use livestream to host an audition for the pantomime Cinderella, written by local talent Tom Wells, with the aim to engage people on Facebook Live. In the drama department at Hull Uni I streamed an audition for the part of the evil stepmum using three professional actresses, Rachael Abbey, Sarah Penney and Sophie Clay, alongside casting director Lizi Perry and one other unique element: people on social media.
Over the course of an hour people tuned in to answer questions (hence some of the short and random comments), offer redirection and send questions straight to the actresses, and as the fairy godmother would say, all my wishes came true. The engagement was incredible, with the livestream audience being really supportive of the actresses and the majority that tuned in watching the entire process from start to finish (which took approximately one hour).
People were not only analytical, they also encouraged the actresses and used emojis to show their reactions such as laughter and applause. At one point, actress Sarah, who was caught in the moment, ripped up the casting director’s script, which caused a ripple of crying LOL faces.
After interviewing participants about the livestream experience, it became clear how well it worked. People really felt a relationship build between them and the actresses, which would encourage them to buy a ticket and see the pantomime. They also loved being involved with the creative process of making a show, proving that there is so much scope for using livestream in the future for artistic purposes as well as in a range of other sectors.
The dissertation I wrote has been selected to be published, as it was novel research that helped towards furthering arts marketing. It will be available to access next year, so I’ll keep you posted.
The research I did really shows that livestream is a fantastic and cheap method of reaching people in a way that feels real and personal. It brings consumers closer to the business and helps to build and keep relationships flourishing… Oh no it doesn’t? Oh yes it does!