Ways of Gathering in the Age of COVID-19

A Guide to Livestreaming on HowlRound TV

As COVID-19 continues to spread, we know many theatre organizations are thinking carefully about their planned gatherings and events. Many colleges and universities across the world are choosing to move their classes online, and we here at HowlRound want to remind you that going digital may be an option for your theatre and performance events as well. We can help with that!

HowlRound TV is a free and shared resource for live conversations and performances relevant to the world's performing arts and cultural fields. It seeks to break geographic isolation, promote resource sharing, and develop the theatre’s knowledge commons collectively. Since creating HowlRound TV in 2011, we have partnered with over one hundred organizations annually to livestream thousands of events from countries all over the world, creating an ever-growing video archive of discourse and practice around contemporary theatre and performance.

Any organization can livestream their event for free, and access to livestream on the channel is first come, first serve. We provide in-depth technical support, training, and help in getting the word out. We promise it’s not as hard as it may seem!

Adding a Virtual Component to Your In-Person Event

Perhaps you’ve decided to move forward with a gathering, but you know more folks than usual may be unable to attend in person. Consider a hybrid event: you can gather people in one room, have other participants join virtually via Zoom or Skype, and livestream the whole thing for the audience.

A great example of a hybrid event was Unsettling Dramaturgy—Crip and Indigenous Process Design, from the Festival of Live Digital Art (foldA) in Kingston, Ontario. Some panelists and audience members gathered in a room in Kingston, while others joined via Zoom, and the entire thing was livestreamed out to a digital audience.

 

Going Fully Digital

If you’ve decided the best choice for your community is to cancel an in-person gathering, you don’t have to cancel the event altogether. Consider bringing people together for a conversation on Zoom and livestreaming that for an audience.

A year ago, we livestreamed a Zoom panel titled the Future of Crowdfunding for Theatre Artists of Color. The five panelists called in from their respective locations, and the event was livestreamed out to a virtual audience.

Between our years of livestreaming on our platform and producing our own events—the vast majority of which have included a virtual component—we are happy to be a resource to the field during this challenging time.

Interactivity

It’s worth noting that whether you are producing an in-person gathering or not, a livestreamed event can still be an interactive experience. We encourage folks to consider ways of engaging their virtual audiences, such as by taking questions from people watching online via email, WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, etc. As long as you communicate clearly with your audience about how they can engage, and have someone paying attention to questions and comments and communicating them to panelists, your livestream can still be interactive.

A great example of this is Suzan-Lori Parks’ ongoing Watch Me Work project. Watch Me Work is a performance piece, a meditation on the artistic process, and an actual work session, featuring Parks writing in the Public Theater lobby. The audience is invited to come in person or virtually to watch her work and/or to write alongside her virtually or in person. During the last fifteen minutes of the performance, Parks answers questions from the in-person audience and online audience, who tweet at @WatchMeWorkSLP and use hashtag #howlround.

 

Getting Started

If you’re considering livestreaming an event, you can learn more from our livestreaming guide. Here are the basics of what you’ll need to livestream an in-person event:

  • A high-performance computer
  • A video camcorder
  • A video capture device
  • Free software called Open Broadcaster Software
  • Wired internet (ideally)

Ready to go? Fill out our contribute content form and we will be in touch! While our curatorial frame centers conversations and performance in the theatre field, we’re happy to chat with anyone who wants to learn more about how livestreaming works and the possibilities this virtual infrastructure provides.

We’re Here to Help!

Whether you ultimately decide to livestream with HowlRound TV or not, our staff is here to help you through the decision-making process. Between our years of livestreaming on our platform and producing our own events—the vast majority of which have included a virtual component—we are happy to be a resource to the field during this challenging time. Please let your friends and colleagues know about HowlRound TV if they don’t already, and please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions—we will get back to you as soon as we’re able.

While we may not be gathering in the same ways we are used to during this time, we can still be together—this space for digital convening is one reason we created HowlRound. Join us!

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