Home Devious News Tools For Theatre Companies: A Forum
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Tools For Theatre Companies: A Forum

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We’re approaching three years together as a theatre company.

Three years of meetings, chats, planning, finance, funding, arguments, resolving arguments, advertising, pimping (of shows, not cast members), tea drinking, writing, scripting, lighting, directing…

We’re often asked how we do it. A conversation yesterday threw up the suggestion that we’re setting trends in certain areas. Far be it from us to believe we’re setting trends, but we feel we’re making good use of the tools at our disposal. Tools that are at everyone’s disposal, if they know how to find them.

As such, we’re giving you some insight as to how we work together as a company both online and offline.

We’re all busy. We’re all working on other projects – Ross is tied up with his photography, working on Vultures and Kilkenny Music; I’m (Ken) running my own business and also heavily tied up with Kilkenny Music and getting My Music off the ground while churning out podcasts to beat the band; John is looking after Mycrofilms and their headline project Vultures; Kevin, now living in Kilkenny again is working day in day out; Niamh is studying theatre in college and Paddy, outside of his design work and living away from Kilkenny, is writing for the Vultures series with Mycrofilms.

As interconnected as we all our in our day-to-day work, we’ve got to stay connected as a theatre company, something which wouldn’t have happened without the use of “the forum”.

Many a conversation over the past two years has finished with “we’ll catch up on the forum” or “it’s on the forum”.

“The Forum”, in our case is an online message board installed on a server we all have access to. Not only do the committee of deviants have access to it but every show gets a dedicated cast, crew and staff message board as well.

In an age where everything is online and everyone has a mobile phone, having a central access point like a forum is vital for the continued success of Devious Theatre. So much so that the use of the forum for discussing and planning internal projects and deadlines was so helpful that it soon became a must for other groups we’re involved with as well once people could see how useful it was.

Your current web host may provide you with free forum facilities to add into your own account. We opted to install a copy of PHPbb on an account for ourselves and haven’t looked back since. When conversations, ideas, scripts, suggestions for plays, contact numbers for cast members, lighting guys, sound guys all have to be logged and archived, a forum is a great place to do it.

Here’s some suggestions for free forum software that may be useful for your theatre company.

While we’re sticking with phpBB, Wikipedia also has a good list of forum software for you to check out and compare.

Update: Check out this comment from Jess at New Leaf Theatre in Chicago to see how they’re using forums for their day-to-day connectivity.

Comment(7)

  1. This is exactly what New Leaf Theatre is doing in Chicago. We’re all very busy with “day jobs” and other projects, our face time is at a premium, and frankly might not be enough to keep us in the kind of contact we would need to continue and improve our artistic product and process. We use our forum (we even CALL it “the forum” as well) for concept discussions, administrative process and procedure setting – we even use it as a central holding area for our ticket reservations, which at present come in through e-mail, phone, and on on-line ticketing service.

    In addition to our forum, we have also use a Wiki as a place to store our “instiutional memory” – we have various production/procedural timelines, meeting agendas, policy documents, all stored on a central site accessible from anywhere with an internet connection.

    I was a stranger to this sort of technology before coming on board with New Leaf just over two years ago, but I can’t say enough good things about it as a way to supplement communication in a creative community.

    Also, how cool is it to see that these methodologies are being used by other artists in a totally different part of the world? I love the interwebs!

  2. Yeah, its fantastic to see so many companies getting on board with this sort of technology and utilising it to run productions and indeed companies more efficiently. From a production standpoint, it’s been absolutely invaluable and it’s also freed people of the necessity of having to consistently meet with each other in order to push through on work. The entire workload is developed throughout our forums by the entire team here. And of course, it’s nice to meet up in real life as well! But I love the phrase ‘institutional memory’. Gotta steal that one!

  3. Hey there! Nick Keenan, resident IT advisor for New Leaf Theatre!

    Thought you guys might be interested in seeing a little bit more detail about how we use the forum / wiki (and now blog and twitter as well): The idea is to funnel chunks of artistic / business work into a couple holding tanks and reduce creative waste. By capturing work into a couple of different electronic buckets, we end up saving a ton of energy and amplifying our efforts.

    Anyway, here’s a little insight into our use of the forum to generate “institutional memory”

    http://nikku.net/blog/how-and-why-to-write-a-company-bible/

  4. I’ve heard of a few groups use forums to keep their ideas active. It’s a brilliant system. We’ve used it in collaborative writing efforts and also for event organising. Simple and very useful.

    Needless to say, if you ever want an additional brainstormer on the boards, count me in.

  5. @Ken I am so tempted to up sticks and move to KK just to join ye lot. By the way, congrats on the shortlist NomNom for Best Arts and Culture at the Bloggies.

  6. @Darren Wooo 🙂 It’s great for the blog, and the group, to get the shortlisting. Hopefully we’ll see more theatre companies doing the same in weeks and months to come.

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