Online ads for theater

In the age of technology, using posters to advertise theater shows may become a thing of the past.

For the production of Bertolt Brecht’s “MAN=MAN,” which runs from Oct. 28 to Nov. 1 at the New Theater, the School of Drama created four behind-the-scenes videos that are currently posted on Facebook, YouTube and the Drama School Web site. These videos, which are the first of their kind at Yale, aim to draw in a younger, more targeted audience and increase interest in the Brecht play for those who may be unfamiliar with it.

“Facebook and YouTube seemed like ideal venues for reaching out to the Yale student body, people who spend time between classes browsing Facebook pages,” said Erik Pearson DRA ’09, director of “MAN=MAN.” “It is our hope that these videos will reach people who might not otherwise go to the theater and show them a bit of what we’re up to.”

The four videos each include a different aspect of the creative and technical process. About a month ago, the “MAN=MAN” production team put up a “Meet the Director” video, followed by an inside look at a rehearsal taking place in a bounce house. Three weeks ago, “MAN=MAN” posted a video of a rehearsal entitled “bootcamp,” in which the actors train with a military consultant to prepare themselves to play soldiers.

As of presstime, the four videos on YouTube had 1,215 views combined and the bootcamp video on its own had 581 views.

Art Priromprintr DRA ’09, who filmed the videos, said actors have expressed concerns about constantly being in front of the camera — an unintended consequence of the new school advertisements.

“The actors are justifiably concerned about the private process,” said Priromprintr. “It’s a challenge to find a way that both shows the public what the artist is doing within the room, while respecting the privacy of the actors.”

The final video, which is just two minutes long, was posted last Friday and tracks the creation of the set, which took one week to build. The project leader, Sergi Torres DRA ’09, likened this to a trailer or a sneak preview.

“When you go to a movie you’ve probably already seen the trailer and know the actors,” said Torres. “We wanted to use technology to create this same experience for theater audience members before they even see the show.”

The primary benefit of this technology, Torres said, is that videos can be aimed at a specific audience depending on the type of play. Torres said he wants to target an audience, engage them and reveal the show’s significance. The bounce houses and military drills in the “MAN=MAN” videos might entice a younger crowd, he added.

Torres said the project began out of a desire to experiment with technology at the School of Drama. But due to its success, the same strategies will be used again in future shows, he said.

“We’re very satisfied right now with the impact of the videos,” said Torres. “It’s exciting to see that we already have more than 1,500 hits thus far.”

The project started with only two people, but the group has already grown to include five. The next show that will have an accompanying video blog is Friedrich Schiller’s “The Robbers,” which premiers Dec. 12 at the Yale Repertory Theatre.

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