My History with Half Lives

Follow along with me tomorrow night as I see the opening night of Half LifeI’m always interested in what REDCAT offers, but this story hits close to my creative home. From their press release:

Weaving together narrative and abstract modes of storytelling, Half Life explores the psychological fallout of global disaster, and how it affects our emotions and imaginations. It’s story centers around two women who literally and figuratively live on opposite sides of the world. When an unknown cataclysmic force disrupts both of their lives, each is compelled to embark on a journey to locate its source.

I have a history with shows about nuclear fallout. From 2004-2011, much of my life was consumed by one project, Voices From Chornobyl. During those years, it had been presented in both the US and the UK to raise money and awareness of the nuclear accident (inspired by Svetlana Alexievich‘s interviews). Its companion piece Voices From Chornobyl Jr. premiered and won Best of 2011 Fringe.

I found the experience both fascinating and frustrating, to bring ‘awareness’ to a time in history when the Ukrainian people’s lives changed forever, and so few of us had any clue (so few of them, for that matter). I stuck with the project because of my complete ignorance before reading Alexievich’s book. Then in 2011 at the 25th anniversary events, Fukushima happened and it seemed almost too immediate, too relevant for our times. I scheduled talkbacks to explain the difference between the two accidents and fallout, so we could feel the impact of Chernobyl but not make our audiences run out and buy iodine.

So I’m interested to see how this project attacks its subject.

All the info is below. Follow my experience on twitter, Facebook & instagram

REDCAT Presents the World Premiere of
Half Life
The newest work from Los Angeles Multimedia Collective
Cloud Eye Control

Thursday, January 15, 2015 to Sunday, January 18, 2015

NOTE: They sold out the entire weekend and so added a Saturday matinee at 4 p.m. on January 17th.


Photo Courtesy the Artist.

(Los Angeles, CA) — REDCAT, CalArts’ Downtown Center for Contemporary Arts, presents the World Premiere of Half Life, the newest work by Los Angeles multimedia ensemble Cloud Eye ControlThursday, January 15 to Sunday, January 18, 2015.

Cloud Eye Control was formed in 2006 by the Los Angeles based trio of animator and media artist Miwa Matreyek; composer, writer, and performer Anna Oxygen (Anna Huff); and theater director Chi-wang Yang, all known internationally for their stunning work individually and as a multimedia collective.

A deeply expressive lamentation of fierce urgency, the latest multimedia production from Cloud Eye Control is an imagistic, visceral work inspired by the nervous fear felt in the wake the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. It features Cloud Eye Control’s signature hybrid performance style that mixes projected animation, live performance, and a live soundtrack of original electronic music.

Cloud Eye Control transforms the stage into an imaginative landscape with several customized, moveable screens full of lush animations where live actors interact in the layered space to create imaginative and odd encounters between the virtual and the physical. The original score, sung by the performers with a live band, brings a rock concert dynamism to the moody and atmospheric world.

Cloud Eye Control’s Half Life is part of a continued supportive relationship with REDCAT. Cloud Eye Control’sUnder Polaris, anepic journey across a vast arctic expanse was co-commissioned and premiered by REDCAT in 2009. The piece went on to tour nationally and internationally, to Chile and France, and helped establish Cloud Eye Control as “transcendently spectacular theater” – Los Angeles Times.

In 2014 REDCAT presented Cloud Eye Control member Miwa Matreyek’s magical, visually rich fusion of intricate video animation and solo performance to sold out audiences that were left spellbound.

More on Cloud Eye Control can be found at their website, http://cloudeyecontrol.com

Artist bios:

Miwa Matreyek is an internationally recognized animator, designer, and multimedia artist based in Los Angeles. She creates animated short films as well as live works that integrate animation, performance, and video installation. Arriving to animation from a background in collage, her work explores how animation transforms when it is combined with body, both physically in her performance pieces, as well as a composited video element in her short films. Her work has been shown internationally at animation/film festivals, theater festivals, performance festivals, as well as art galleries, science museums, tech conferences, universities, and more.http://www.semihemisphere.com

Anna Oxygen is the stage name of multi-media artist, composer and performer Anna Huff. She has extensively toured Europe and the United States performing musical and interactive performance pieces. She has released several albums of electronic and acoustic music, most recently This is an Exercise on indie label Kill Rock Stars. Her performance and video work has been presented at PS1 MOMA Contemporary, The Seattle Art Museum, LACMA (LA), NYU, The Armory Center for the Arts (Pasadena), The Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, and the Rohsska Museet in Gothenburg, Sweden among others. http://www.annaoxygen.com

Chi-wang Yang is a Los Angeles-based director of theater and performance. Whether in the form of plays, operas, concerts or installation; his work is physical, experimental, and collaborative. He is committed to expanding notions of identity and theatrical form and to exploring the unstable intersections of body, narrative and technology. His work has been presented at theaters and galleries internationally, including REDCAT, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Havana International Film Festival and the Edinburgh International Festival Fringe. Recent directorial projects include They Are Dying Out, by Peter Handke, and The Closest Farthest Away/La Entrañable Lejanía, a groundbreaking international collaboration between American and Cuban artists.http://mysteriously.org

“Magical…unlike anything you’ve seen before… transcendently spectacular theater” —Los Angeles Times

Cloud Eye Control: Half Life

Thursday, January 15–Saturday, January 17, 8:30 p.m. and
Sunday, January 18, 3:00p.m.

NOTE: They sold out the entire weekend and so added a Saturday matinee at 4 p.m. on January 17th.

Tickets: $16-$25
Location: REDCAT | 631 West 2nd St. Los Angeles, CA 90012

For more information call the REDCAT Box Office at 213-237-2800
Or visit: http://www.redcat.org/event/cloud-eye-control-half-life

Half Life is produced with Los Angeles Performance Practice, and was made possible in part by a creative residency with the CalArts Center for New Performance.

Half Life is funded in part by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Theater Project with lead funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; the LEF Foundation; and The MAP Fund, a program of Creative Capital, primarily supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

New England Foundation for the Arts

What I Care About This Week

*In case you need background on the Boko Haram attacks….

…that reportedly killed 2,000 civilans. I certainly did. Read on The Root.

*This gets to the point I try to hammer into clients….

….one person’s perspective or use of social media does not speak for their entire generation. Read An Old Fogey’s Analysis of a Teenager’s View on Social Media

 *NASA is a world leader in global warming research, but for how long?

*Trigger warning (rape and sexual harassment, stalking):

A YA author asked for sightly less than minimum wage…

…to write a sequel for her fans who wanted it, after the publisher passed on the book.
For daring to ask for money for her work (all $10 pledges received a copy of the book when finished) she received rape threats (which triggered memories of her own past rape) and was emailed photos of her home among other harassment.

Her response: “Jealousy rots and corrupts your creative soul and feeding your social media presence by hunting out controversy, feeding the flames, and then pretending you are simply fostering discussion is poisonous and empty. You create nothing but spite in a world that is already full of it and in desperate need of kindness.” Read her full response.

Audience Building: Part Three – How to Find and Build New Audiences

This post was originally published in Ms in the Biz on October 23, 2014


SocratesThis is the third in a series of
Audience Building articles, where I go into depth on the sticking points, the places where I see people take short cuts but are actually quite vital.

This is how to find and build new audiences, not just promoting without annoying your family and friends. Everyone has to actively attract and sustain new people in order to grow their audience.

I practically plastered last month’s article with the cautionary tale of making your first (and subsequent) contact with potential audience conversational, not promotional, so this month I will spend some time explaining the difference. For if you skip this part of your audience building endeavors, you may as well not start. An example:

I once received a tweet that at first glance was an example of excellent targeting; a musical troupe invited me to their Hollywood Fringe Festival show for families. I was impressed that they had found me (I had only recently started looking for shows my son can attend), and the invite tweet was pretty straightforward. However, that festival has its own hashtag (#hff14) and when I clicked on it, the account had sent the same exact tweet to basically everyone who used the hashtag, only a fraction of whom were interested in family-friendly programming. So what at first appeared to be a successful example of audience development turned out to be nothing short of spam. I didn’t see their show, and actually blocked their account. Life is too short for spamming twitter accounts (or auto-posts from Facebook, but that’s another article).

They were spamming in an old-fashioned sense of the word (same text to multiple people with no prior relationship), but clear promotion is just as easy to spot on a network created to be social. Twitter works for audience development when it’s conversational. News outlets can get away with simply blasting headlines, and any twitter account certainly wants to share its own news and links as well as others. When handling the first contact for a potential audience member you’ve found, however, you must start with a light touch. Start by showing interest in them, not drawing attention to you. The good news is that you accomplish this every day. Sometimes in 140 characters, even if you don’t realize it: You talk to people. You talk to people with no agenda of your own except to have a nice, engaging, sometimes enlightening or entertaining conversation (I hope). It works in a similar way on twitter.

For the sake of continuity in this series, I will use twitter as an example. Most of these techniques can easily translate to other platforms, though you should always understand why you are on a platform and whether your target audience actually uses it (discussed in Part 1).

Once you find the people that are part of your target (potential) audience, how to initiate contact? It should be something along these lines:

  • A response to something they tweet
  • A share of one of their blogs, or website, with a reason why you like it or think it’s worthwhile (and tag the author)
  • A re-tweet with a reason why you like their tweet or think it’s worthwhile
  • A hello and introduction to another twitter account with same interests or mission
  • Simply a hello with a short note why you’re following them (but do not send the same or similar tweet to multiple people at the same time. It looks shabby, as described above.)

At the same time that you’re seeking out and engaging in conversation with these folks, be sure your own timeline reflects the mutual interest. Following on the fairy tale theme of Part 2, while you retweet links from fairy tale bloggers and begin to interact with them, you should also tweet on the topic. Easy ways to do this are to discuss Once Upon a Time, or the web series The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy, or the book/Broadway musical Peter and the Starcatcher, or Neil Gaiman’s new illustrated Hansel and Gretel. There is no lack of cool things to share on the topic of fairy tales nowadays, and if you are truly passionate about the subject of your work, you should have no trouble finding fun ways to engage people. Begin with what drew you to your passion in the first place.

Just be yourself. Share links that associate you with how you want to be known. If you can engage people enough to share, they will help you build your audience as your process moves along.

Michael Stephens of the Vsauce You Tube channel articulated why people share (emphasis mine).

“Everyone wants to express themselves….but they also do it with knowledge: the things theyknow about the stuff they like. I’ve noticed that the most operative motive behind someone sharing one of my videos, promoting me by word of mouth, isn’t so much about me, as it is about them. Hey! Look what I found. I like this. I am like this. Whenever you share anything, a few of the attributes of that thing reflect back onto you. So I find that the best ways to gain attentive listeners is not to be who your audience wants you to be, but instead make, and say, and do things, that allow your audience to be who they want to be.”

(Remember that these can also be Facebook shares, Pins, etc – the important detail is be sure your target is notified of your action. )

Some examples of how not to begin contact:

  • Asking them to donate to your crowdfunding campaign
  • Asking them to read your link (unless directly related to a question they asked)
  • Telling them about your work, product, show, etc
  • Asking for a Retweet (some celebrities do this but most have personal policies regarding the practice.)

See a pattern? Begin the conversation with someone new as if you have no agenda. You are simply people who have mutual interests and may want to discuss them with each other. After you have a relationship established (and this is more than just one genuine tweet or back and forth, it is weeks and sometimes months), you can lead them to your work. The best case scenario is that your conversation interests them enough to check your twitter profile which, as discussed in our first article, has the link to your work in its bio. Then they follow you, read your tweets in their timeline and become interested in your work on their own, via your own personality and discreet tweets to your own links.

That is your first point of contact with all potential audience members (yes, every single one individually. Welcome to the new age of audience building. It requires patience, time and a genuine passion for what you do). You can even learn quite a bit about your audience while you engage with them – which brings us to Step 4, and what you can find here next month.

I practice what I preach pretty regularly @cindymariej . Check me out there and ask questions!

Audience Building Part 2 – Start from Scratch

This post was originally published in Ms in the Biz on September 26, 2014.

Cindy Marie JenkinsThis is the second in a series of Audience Building articles, where I go into depth on the sticking points, the places where I see people take short cuts but are actually quite vital.

These are all methods on how to find and build new audiences, not just promoting without annoying your family and friends. Everyone has to actively attract and sustain new people in order to grow their audience, whether for your personal career, web series, feature film, blog, play, book, business, jewelry store…..you get the idea.

Typical Question from Client: “When should I start promoting?”

My Answer: “When did you get the idea?”

Although a tad hyperbolic, I do mean it, just not in the typical sense. Throw most of what you’ve heard about “promoting” or “marketing” out the window. Start from scratch, because we all know when we’re being sold something, and most of us have miles to go before we’re Amanda Palmer.

What I mean is that the more time you have before an actual product “launches,” or whatever your industry equivalent is, the better. Start your research into your audience. Start your conversations within fan groups similar to your work (note that I said conversations, not promotions). Get inside your audience’s heads, become a key player inside their world and find others to become your ambassadors.

First, have you plotted your Audience Targets as described in my first blog here? Go and do that. I’ll wait.

You’re back? Great, now we’re ready to begin.

STEP 0.5 : Understand how to organize yourself to avoid overwhelm. Are you a spreadsheet kind of person? Do you prefer a messy worksheet document that is organized later? Or would you rather pin all your research to a private Pinterest board before figuring out how to organize it? Because I now work babe-in-arms or babe-on-floor, large Post-it notes are sometimes my best way. [photo 1]

Whatever works for you. Just pick one way and stick to it, or change midstream to a method of organization that makes sense to you. Keep your research moving.

STEP 1 : Choose one of the Audience groups from your target exercise and start your research. Let’s use “people interested in re-tellings of fairy tales” as an example. Whatever target group you’re researching, the core questions remain the same:

  • What do they read (blogs, books, etc)?
  • Who do they follow/Who are their Influencers?
  • Where do they hang (on and offline)?
  • What do they watch?
  • What twitter chats do they frequent?
  • What social platforms do they use and how?
  • When can you pursue, and when might you consider finding an ambassador? (For instance, most parent groups won’t allow you into them if you aren’t a parent.)

STEP 2 : Fall into the rabbit hole of research. Sometimes all you need is one good lead to set you off on an adventure. While researching fairy tales via genre-related twitter chats, I found@inkgypsy and her website Once Upon a Blog.

(I’ll just give you a few hours to read all her research, thoughtful reviews and commentary. I ended up on her site for thirty minutes after visiting there just to get the link.)

So, how does @inkgypsy help you find the answers to our seven audience questions? Start with her own research. Use those questions as mere guideposts for what you can learn about your audience. She is a great example because she is equal parts a fan, expert and potential ambassador. Some examples:

STEP 3 : Track and Connect with all relevant Leads. Here are a few fun ways to track Audience Leads (choose based on your comfort level as described in STEP 0.5):

  • Follow and/or add Leads to a Twitter List (private one if your own feed doesn’t yet reflect the topic of fairy tales, public if it’s obvious why you follow them.)
  • Create a tracking spreadsheet and add as many places where these Leads live online as you can find, including but not limited to: website, email, twitter, facebook (page or profile, but always add to an Interest List so you can easily find them later), Pinterest, You Tube or vimeo, etc. If you notice there is a social platform that many of your Leads frequent but you are not on that platform, consider building a profile there. For now, just note it.
  • Pin all their websites and blogs to a Pinterest Board (As with twitter, private one if your own feed doesn’t yet reflect the topic of fairy tales, public if it’s obvious why you follow them.)
  • Just toss their website links into a document to parse out later (using the above).

STEP 4 : Set reasonable goals for yourself. I always like to offer the Rule of Five. If you can devote five days out of seven to research at least five potential members of an audience group, then not only will you find more inspiration for your project but you will begin to understand how your potential audience makes decisions.

STEP 5: DON’T SELL YOURSELF. Don’t pitch, don’t promote, or anything close to that. (If someone asks directly, that is a different story.) You are starting the process of building relationships so your potential audience trusts you enough to believe that your work is worth their time. Finding Your Audience is only the beginning. In future articles, I’ll show how to develop and nurture these potential audience groups to the point at which you can start inviting them into your work.

Have questions? Leave them in the comments or tweet me @cindymarie and I’ll answer.

Indie Art: Not Your Undergrad Production of “The Maids”

A friend of mine’s been working on her own adaptation of The Papin Sisters story, better known as the sisters in Jean Genet’s The Maids who [spoiler alert] end up killing their mistress.

But this looks to be an entirely different production…….I’ve seen Naomi’s past work, and admire her imagination, story-telling and ensemble work. As an added bonus, all the ticket sales go directly to her actors and team, some of whom have been workingon this show since January.

Here’s a taste:

Our New (Acro)Door from Diavolo: Architecture in Motion

As you may have notice in our pictures and videos over the last couple days, we have a new door!  But not just any door, this one comes to us courtesy ofDiavolo: Architecture in Motion and is fully equipped to handle the acrobatics and high-flying skills of our ensemble!

though some people still tend to doze off on from time to time…

But in the end, we just end up hanging out.

All in all, our ensemble and production team have been working tirelessly to get ready for our opening night.  So, if you are in the L.A. area, and haven’t got your tickets yet – seating is very limited!

Tickets are available here: http://holdmetight.bpt.me

And if you have a moment to help spread the word, shares, tweets, and emails are greatly appreciated as we push through the last couple days of our fundraiser.Cheers!

Hold Me Tight ensemble

Visit the ‘‘Hold Me Tight’ an MFA Thesis Project’ campaign.

Audience Building 101: Know Thyself / Know Thy Audience

This is the first in a series of Audience Building articles that were originally posted on Ms in the Biz.

I don’t just want to give you a punch list of how to build a devoted fan base; you can easily google some perfectly fine pointers. I will go into depth on the sticking points, the places where I see people take short cuts but are actually quite vital.

These are all methods on how to find and build new audiences, not just promoting without annoying your family and friends. Everyone has to actively attract and sustain new people in order to grow their audience, whether for your personal career, web series, feature film, blog, play, book, business, jewelry store…..you get the idea.

UPDATED 12/12/2014: I changed a reference from Bill Cosby to Tina Fey, so as not to distract from the topic.

Audience Building 101

Know thyself. (In 160 characters or less.)

One thing I love about Twitter (and there many) is that the profile picture and bio are great examples of how quickly you must explain yourself to someone new. This is a freedom, not a restriction. You shape exactly how people think of you visually and tell them what you do and your personal mission. Go through these Brainstorms for Twitter and it can help you everywhere else, including in-person introductions.

cmj just eyes croppedWhen I change my twitter photo, it is very deliberate. Once, someone with whom I’d had lengthy conversations on twitter but never met in person didn’t recognize me because I wasn’t wearing a green cap (like in my previous profile photo). Last summer, I’d tried in vain to explain where I was in a crowded bar to a playwright, and he found me based on my glasses, front and center in my new one. How do you know the right photo to use?

Brainstorm: What do I want people to know about me? I find 3-5 specific words do the trick. (Using myself as an example:)

1. Curious

2. Nerdy (my freelance business name is Outreach Nerd & I also write about parenting on @ParentingNerd)

3. Focused

4. (optional) Honest

5. (optional)

Brainstorm: How do I want people to feel when they see my photo? Keep these as simple as possible, and be sure they reflect emotions.

1. Intrigued

2. Safe (they can trust me)

How can you possibly describe yourself in 160 characters or less?

1. Find one or two words that brand you in a unique way (based on the above brainstorms)

2. What you DO (Could be job title and/or personal mission)

3. Your associations, projects, related twitter handles and/or hashtags

4. Your current project (also in the website)

For instance, here’s mine at this moment:

Storyteller & @OutreachNerd – I bridge gaps between Audiences and Art. Communications Dir @24thST. New @ParentingNerd.*

Show to a few people and ask them if it sounds like you. Picture wearing your bio plastered on a sandwich board at a conference or an opening gala – are you that comfortable with it? It will be a lot of people’s first impression of you, and you want it right, and you want it current.

I can’t tell you how many times I go to someone’s twitter profile to find information about their new show, and the website listed directs me to an outdated page that has no bearing on the information I want to know right now. You lost my interest. If your current project has a twitter handle and/or hashtag, put it in the bio. Keep it current; keep yourself relevant. Direct people exactly where you want them to look. You have the power. Use it.

Know Thy Audience.

The very first step to this endeavor is narrowing it down. “Everybody who likes comedy/likes to laugh” is not specific enough. Is your comedy akin to Steve Martin, Chelsea Peretti, Louis CK, John Oliver, Sarah Silverman? Is it tweetable, or more long form? (Time-sucker Tangent: see Patton Oswalt if you want a stellar example of using limitations to create comedy that also shows insight into society)

With all of my clients, I place an image of a target and markers in front of them. Be sure to use markers. They make everything more fun.

photo1 8-17-14

Begin in the center of the target: who are the guarantees, the people you know are devoted to you and will share anything just because you ask? People who usually go in the center include the following:

  • Family
  • Close Friends
  • Donors (if you fund-raised)
  • That person who Likes everything you post on Facebook and sometimes it’s a little creepy, but you really think they mean well and aren’t stalkers.

Then begin moving to the outer circles. In the circle just outside the center target, your potential audiences here   may include:

  • Collaborators (They are often considered a given for your main audience, but are not always reliable. Collaborators usually work on multiple projects and their performance or comfort level with promoting in general may contribute to how much they hustle the project. You also have to give them the tools necessary to make it easy, which I’ll cover in a later post)
  • Colleagues/Associates (People who understand that you need help and may ask for it in return.)

Note that you want to consider how close the potential audience is to both your product (people who love the genre of your film, for example) and how close your current real connection is to them. If you want to target Firefly lovers but haven’t been active in any forums, blogs, etc, then move them further away from the center than if you’re a familiar face around the fanbase. It will take time to gain their trust.

Here is how I coach people through completing their target audience list:

  • Don’t think too much about it. This is a brainstorm. Write every thought that comes into your head and don’t edit. You’ll appreciate it later.
  • You can always move people, so don’t obsess over where they go in the target either.
  • Get as general and as specific as comes to you in the moment. “People who like Tina Fey” are different than “People who like 30 Rock”, though they overlap. But if all you can think is “Tina Fey,” write that and go into detail later.
  • Peel apart every part of your product that might attract people: genre, themes, sub themes, locations, hobbies of characters, actors, etc
  • Use a soft focus on the project to see it from a different angle. Ask people not familiar to read/watch and give you a new perspective into their personal hook.

If you take the time to fill in each outer circle with as many details as you can, it will avoid overwhelm later. Imagine you are sitting at home, and you feel like you should do something but you don’t know what. Don’t just post a soulless status update that sounds too sales-y even for your tastes. Sit down and focus on just one of these potential audience groups. Where do they live online? Who influences them? Where do they find their entertainment? It is so much easier to find a specific potential target than just think “I need more people! Say something witty right now”

How do you find them? That is in my next post, Audience Building 102: Starting From Scratch.

Comment with your questions or tweet them to @CindyMarieJ. I’ll answer or address it in a later post.

*Since this post was originally published on September 30, my twitter profile bio changed, according to how my focus shifted.

How do Diana, Jessica & Steven Make it Work as a Work-At-Home-Parent?

I put out the call for Work-at-Home-Parents, and seven wonderful people answered! They represent a variety of careers, their children are all different ages, and Thursday’s Round Table is sure to be lively and helpful.

Here is an introduction to our guests, two by two. Read about Lisa & Róisín here , Deepti & Tish here.

Diana Kohne KennyDiana Kohne Kenny

is a visual artist who shows new work several times a year, a mom with an active toddler, and in between runs Art Cricket LA, a new business that connects people to local art.

 

 

Jessica Ires MorrisJessica Ires Morris

tries to fit acting, raising a one year old and working remotely for a financial consulting firm into her life and her home. Each area benefits and suffers from the others.

 

siw450x450Steven Wasserman 

has worked on numerous independent productions as director, producer, cinematographer, editor and writer. His work has been featured in numerous international film festivals and broadcast nationally on cable television, and CEO of Hachitan Entertainment, specializing in Creative Production of Film & Video content for broadcast, marketing and entertainment.

 

Moderated by Cindy Marie Jenkins, Storyteller and Outreach Nerd, Communications Director@24thST Theatre. A workaholic () who loves being a new mother  . What could go wrong? Adventures of Lil’ Pirate Dude chronicled @parentingnerd.

If you are a work-at-home-parent, considering it, or as an employer want to keep your hiring options open, please join us!

Making Life Work as a Work-at-Home Parent

Thursday, Sept. 25 (1-2:30pm)

At 24th ST Theatre, 1117 W. 24th ST, LA 90007 (corner of Hoover & 24th ST) Map.

Join the Facebook event for updates.