How to rehearse a play with SkyDrive

17 03 2013

I was recently asked to act in a production of a new play. Now, I love to do new work. The process is interesting, and getting new work on its feet can be both taxing and rewarding at the same time. This is the first time the playwright entrusts their vision to about 4 to 15 other people all at once.

Technically, unless the playwright is going to rewrite the play, it’s time for him or her to step back and absorb the process. The execution of the material will result in discoveries that could never have been envisioned except by the most seasoned author.

So this part of the post isn’t about the creative process, but how I ended up using bits of technology to bring together elements of the show to make that creative process run smoother.

I figured it would be a good thing to talk about as part of the SkyDrive Insider program (a volunteer program where you basically explain how you use SkyDrive a few times a year) – because I literally had to use SkyDrive to get the play on its feet.

We had 4 weeks, 16 rehearsal hours, and 16 hours of “tech rehearsal” in the theatre prior to our first public performance. If anyone knows what it takes to produce a show, they know that this is not nearly enough time to do a full production. Least of all one where we are missing (or became devoid of) a few crucial elements (I won’t say exactly… but let’s say one starts with “d” and rhymes with “erector”…).

The Script…

First off, the script was emailed to me in chunks. Which was fine. Except it was in the “old Word” format. So, I upgraded that, and put that in my SkyDrive folder so I could review it on any number of devices (including my Windows Phone 8) whenever I needed to.

I also decided I needed to move print areas so it could print multiple sheets per page and later, create a cutting of the script for cues and props. So, I was able to fix those periodically in SkyDrive’s Web Apps, or via Word 2010 / 2013 whenever I needed to.

If others needed it, I could share it easily to them.

Audio Cues…

The script called for many many audio cues. So, I recorded them using my Zoom H2 Stereo Recorder with wired lavaliere microphones. We cut those up into separate tracks. And, so I could get familiar with them, I posted the raw audio files (captured in WAV format) in SkyDrive.

The Windows Phone 8 I have has not always been able to play WAV audio formats. However, somehow these were OK this time. The SkyDrive App in Windows Phone 8 was able to stream the clips directly to the phone’s audio / Bluetooth so I could listen to them once they were posted. (I did get an error listed on that blog, but opening / closing the app cleared the error…)

I was planning to share them out (and upload the MP3 versions of them), but we ended up cutting the actual clips later due to time constraints / plot motives in the show.

On site, we actually had to use a wireless hotspot to transfer the files back down to a tablet in order to play them at the theatre for one rehearsal because the theatre itself had no audio board… which was a fun discovery at the time.

Distributing photos for shows…

Not for this show, but for other shows (where I don’t have all the lines to say), I typically post a set in a gallery to Facebook. But Facebook makes photos look terrible (those settings can help). The quality (even at High Quality) isn’t really enough for a theatre to archive. So I typically post a better set as a ZIP file (or as a gallery) to SkyDrive and send a link (and shorten it) to the theatre manager / artistic director for their purposes.

If you don’t know about http://domains.live.com – then you should think about moving your email there, because you get your own SkyDrive! This is very helpful for clubs / families etc…

The best way to share a big archive of pictures is to make the files bite-size (less than 80MB each) so they upload easier and download without issue. A tool like 7-Zip will break apart an archive for you, but most people don’t understand how to re-compose an archive that comes in pieces from that tool.

PDF’s…

Finally… I love / hate PDF’s. My wife writes plays. And acts. But she has written some plays. And some people “need a copy in Word” (for no legit reason). The tool she uses to write is a script writing piece of software.

Word 2013 now converts PDF’s to a “Word DOCX”… but it is not quite a real Word DOCX. It is very similar to a document, but it has a lot of special formatting to make it look exactly like the PDF. Which means editing that DOCX will result in total disaster for the script’s formatting.

Plays typically have lots and lots of tabs, margins, formatting, etc. And the resulting PDF from a tool like CeltX is highly specialized. So people ask for a Word format doc so they can “highlight it” or “track changes” or “print it a special way” and it usually ends in tears.

SkyDrive will let you post this Word DOCX or PDF of a play and let you read it… but woe betide anyone who really wants to edit that PDF.

It’s just one of those Yay / Boo scenarios.

Just like the Drama Masks… 1363501507_theatre_masks

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