World Theatre Map

Open Development Update # 1

HowlRound and its online community are designing and building the World Theatre Map which will launch its first version this year, incorporating users' feedback and ideas in iterative phases. This blog series is a development mechanism for users to stay informed of progress and contribute their ideas. Sign up for the Map's mailing list, follow @HowlRound on Twitter, or email to get involved. Communicate your thoughts and respond to our prompts in the comments section.

In the first week of January 2016, the HowlRound team met with the World Theatre Map web developers and designers to kick off our work. We are thrilled to be reunited for this project with Colin Sagan and Raeanne Young of Mosswood Creative based in Manilla, Philippines. Colin and Raeanne were members of the pioneering technology worker-cooperative Quilted of Berkeley, California, and Colin was the lead developer for the New Play Map and has been collaborating with us on various projects since 2009.

We discussed the results of your 125 responses to the New Play Map/World Theatre Map survey that we conducted in November-December 2015. The goal of the week was to coalesce and synthesize the community's responses into a clear conceptual direction and mission for the World Theatre Map project.


 group photo
Adewunmi OkeHowlRound Fellow (taking the photo), L to R: Renessa CiampaGraphic Designer; Julia Lorellovisiting student; Vijay MathewHowlRound Cultural Strategist; Ramona OstrowskiHowlRound Associate Producer; Jamie GahlonHowlRound Senior Creative Producer; Raeanne YoungWeb Developer and Designer; Colin SaganWeb Developer and Designer.

Here's the work-in-progress mission and product statement of the World Theatre Map based on your survey responses. This was written at the end of our first work-week together:

The World Theatre Map is a user-generated directory or "living-CV" of the world's theatre community (all types of makers, workers, companies, institutions) and a real-time media hub of its projects, events, performances, conversations, and ideas.
The World Theatre Map aims to make the field visible to itself and serves as "bottom-up" infrastructure to connect isolated and siloed theatre communities to vital information, resources, research, and learning to further their practice and participation in theatre—both locally and globally. (Our ultimate cultural outcome is to enable paradigm-changing ideas and resources (both within theatre and the greater world) to have the possibility to flourish and take root.)
We worked from this Synthesis of the New Play Map / World Theatre Map Survey:
New Play Map: How do you use it now?
  • Document my work or my company’s work to signal and demonstrate involvement.

  • Research work, artists, or organizations for scouting, dramaturgy, or shared interests.

  • Promote events.

  • Learn about my local geographic community.

  • Educational tool for theatre students.

World Theatre Map: What do you want it to do?

  • “CONNECT ME” was the recurring motif expressed in various ways.

  • Connect me to like-minded people, build artistic/professional relationships and bridges.

  • Actively alert and notify me about things when I am not on the site. (“follow” or “watch list” or “reminders”.)

  • Help me know what’s happening in my local community.

  • See statistics about the field and the map.

  • Connect me to artistic opportunities.

  • Enable more images, video, and media to describe profiles.

  • Search by categories, demographics, genre, etc.

These were the initial goals of the World Theatre Map we listed for your survey:

  • Make visible and accessible the compelling stories and metrics from this already huge database of past, present, and future theatre information.

  • Expand profile creation to any kind of theatre event (new plays or not) and any kind of theatremaker (not just generative artists or playwrights—but also designers, directors, technicians, dramaturgs, managers, performers, etc.) as well as social media sharing possibilities.

  • Overhaul the technology which will include: improving the user interface, adding mobile device compatibility, making international participation easier, and improving the ease of local geographic participation.

  • Create more linkages between HowlRound Journal content, and HowlRound TV content and the World Theatre Map, so that if you search the World Theatre Map, you will also get to see the related HowlRound content about that artist/organization/etc.

Subsequent goals that we’ve been discussing for the World Theatre Map's development:

  • Investigate options and solutions for making World Theatre Map multilingual. Perhaps launching the site in three languages: English, Spanish, and French. (These are three of the official languages of the UN General Assembly. The others are Arabic, Chinese, and Russian.)

  • Allowing for user translation edits into English and/or one of these three languages, and allowing for initial machine translation as well that could be improved by users/volunteers.

From this initial conceptual work, Renessa Ciampa has been designing and iterating on webpage mockups that embody these ideas. Here are a few of the latest designs:





The globe displayed on the homepage would be a real-time, animated display that shows you all the performance events across the world that are happening today. This data will be user-generated—as is all of the content on the World Theatre Map. Click on this undesigned proof-of-concept of real-time data being pulled from the New Play Map on an animated globe.


Search and User-Generate Data Visualization Pages:



The bar-graph that you see above is one example of how users can take the information themselves from this user-generated directory in order to visualize it for various purposes. These visualizations—whether charts, graphs, or maps—will be publishable and shareable on social media in order to start conversation, stimulate learning, and spark change in the field.

Searching this directory will be multifacted with various search filters. Organizations, people, and theatre pieces/projects will be identified and described in various ways by users themselves so that other users can search and find them in various ways.


Profiles Page:
This will be a "living-CV" of people, organizations, and projects/plays/pieces. Each will have profile pages that will present biographical information, event listings, contact information, weblinks, related organizations, and will integrate related media such as HowlRound Journal and HowlRound TV video that's relevent to the specific profile. These profiles—like any information on the map—is generated and editable by anyone. Over the past five years, the New Play Map has greatly benefitted from this open system of community-driven editing. It has a continuous growing database numbering in the several thousands of organizations, plays, and playwrights. (And we have never once experienced a case of "vandalism.") The community spirit around the New Play Map has been extraordinary and heartening. Its rich database will be migrated into the World Theatre Map, and the World Theatre Map will open up the profile creation to any worker, maker, or institution involved in the theatre world. The New Play Map's features and functions will all exist within the World Theatre Map—its just that the World Theatre Map will be much more comprehensive and be able to do much more.


Community Prompt:
Given what you've read and seen here, what would you use the World Theatre Map for?

Sign up for the Map's mailing list, follow @HowlRound on Twitter, or email to get involved. Communicate your thoughts and respond to our prompts here in the comments section.

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