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Digital showcasing at international platforms

Showcasing is a well-known discipline at international performing arts platforms and festivals; when artists and companies in selected showcase programs perform or present performances for theater professionals and programmers. The goal is to promote a performance, a work in progress or perhaps an idea for collaboration – and sometimes to sell performances for international touring.

In 2021 we are collaborating with CPH STAGE on the project “DIGITAL PRESENCE”, whose purpose is to strengthen Danish performance artists in the paradigm shift that is occurring at the moment with international work moving online, and the leading festivals and market places being planned in a hybrid format. The Danish festival began this digitalization in 2020 and reached out to us to level up the efforts in 2021.

Digital Showcasing is a young discipline, which has developed due to various reasons, among others the global COVID-19-restrictions. The development of the digital presentation and promotion of performing arts is also an important part of a sustainability strategy – since the ability to shift between in-personand online events without much effort might very well be a necessary part of the international work format from now on.

The project DIGITAL PRESENCE focuses on the digital redistribution of performing arts through the disciplines of digital showcasing and pitching. In collaboration with CPH STAGE, we have prepared selected showcase participants to attend CPH STAGE in a digital or hybrid format. With workshops in digital showcasing, we have lifted the creative competency level concerning how it’s possible to capsule the artistic essence of performances in digital presentations. Here we have gathered key points, tips & advice and best practice cases on the discipline digital showcasing.

Instead of presenting the whole work – Digital Showcasing is a new way to present an artistic essence, the artistic DNA of the work in a shorter timeframe aligned with the digital opportunities. Check out the 5 Digital Showcases here. The development of the digital showcase is part of DIGITAL PRESENCE – CPH STAGE’s collaboration with The Development Platform for Performing Arts.

Tips and advice on digital showcasing
Dramaturg Robbert Van Heuven from NITE (NL) gives tips and advice for digital showcasing. The video is recorded from an online workshop on digital showcasing under the project DIGITAL PRESENCE. The project DIGITAL PRESENCE is presented in collaboration with CPH STAGE.

Step 1: Revisiting the artistic essence of your work
Before you even start thinking of digital tools and formats, it may be a good idea to revisit the original essence of your artistic work. Take time to consider and discuss the following:

What do you consider the artistic essence or DNA of your original work?What idea/theme/energy/change etc. would you like to communicate artistically through your work?What is the key audience experience you aim for (describe the impressions/
considerations/thoughts/emotions/etc. you would like to stimulate in the audience)?

When moving on to identify digital tools and formats, keep in mind the artistic essence of your work and make sure your technical choices all align with this.

Step 2: Formulating your concept for the digital showcase presentation
A showcase presentation online is a very different format from a physical performance. Make sure you have a thought-through concept for the showcase which is right for this medium, and, that you choose consciously among the extra possibilities the medium provides – as well as letting go of physical conventions that don’t make sense digitally.

Consider the dramaturgy of the showcase presentation. What will be the driving force in the presentation? What drives the story/the movement/the action?How will you use the full potential of the live-aspect? In which way do you want to include the audiences – or why not? What makes this digital showcase relevant for people to watch online – on an exact time – what is the extraordinary value you?The online medium makes new opportunities for urgency Consider if and how you want to give the audience a degree of urgency.Stay open in the process – remember you can make new narratives and connections with digital media – see it as a starting point for new narratives.Seduce your audience! Use your special skills for example – lighting, soundscapes, pictures or storytelling

Step 3: Choosing the right digital tools
Consider how you can translate the essence/quality/energy and so forth of your performance into the digital presentation using the tools available.

Concentrate on using simple digital tools and do not let your artistic message drown in too many ideas or digital gadgets.See the digital tools as something that can add something extra to your performance.For a more direct connection between the audience and performers, let the performers talk directly to the audience through the camera.As an effect, you can consider using prerecorded sounds from the performance (heavy breath, body sounds or a speaker) which you can sample into the video.If you are considering filming the audience as a part of the digital showcase: make sure it has the effect you are aiming for. You can easily loose energy in filming the audience.

And a few extra tips:
Keep it short – online the audience is often impatient.Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse! Plan your shooting of the performance into the smallest detail and rehearse it before your final take. Test the shooting angles, sound etc.