Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Slidell Little Theatre Unveils Audience Guide E-Zine

by Don Redman
Slidell Little Theatre today rolled out the first edition of Prologue, an audience guide published as an e-zine (ē · zēn – electronic magazine). The purpose of the online publication is to serve as an educational tool that will evolve to include a variety of mediums – written, oral, and visual – filled with the backstage stories and related topics that will provide audiences with a broader understanding of the play, its creators, and the local talent bringing it to life onstage.
"Prologue" first edition
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and I hope the folks at Goodspeed Musicals feel really flattered because the entire premise of Prologue was totally inspired by their excellent publication, Audience Insights.
Our inaugural publication was published using a free service through FlipSnack.com, which promised to convert our massive pdf file (portable document format) into an easy-to-download page flip format. Otherwise it would have taken for evah to download.
It’s not without its limitations (what free service isn’t?), but for the moment we are happy with the results (here). Two pages didn’t make the cut – FlipSnack allows for only 15 free pdf pages and our document was 17 pages – so we’ll work on a way to get those pages posted elsewhere at a later date. In the meanwhile, we will soon link the original pdf file to our website and explore our options, including upgrading to a fee-based site.
The key to the success of Prologue will depend heavily on the director of each of our Main Stage productions and their cooperation in granting us access to backstage stories, insights, drawings, photos, videos and interviews. Of course, when for the moment you’re essentially an editorial staff of one, getting help in generating the stories will also be essential in producing a quality publication.
I'm not sure we will be able to equal the standard set in the first edition and that's largely because of the talented Joanna Messina and her incredible illustrations in the style of Dr. Seuss. She really deserves a ton of credit for the e-zine's whimsical look and feel. Joanna's complete biography can be found in the current (August/Septemeber) edition of Prologue.
Director Scott Sauber is greatly appreciated for his cooperation and willingness to talk about his vision for Seussical, as well as allowing us a glimpse into the person he is.
There are some detractors, of course, who are worried that divulging too much behind-the-curtain business will "ruin the magic," or "spoil the awe factor," but I am of the belief that simply knowing how something works or looks doesn't have to spell the end of imagination or the theatrical experience. A case-in-point: our production of Stellaluna. Travis and Kelly Brisini wrote an excellent article here about how they made the puppets for Stellauna. There were no secrets left untold. And yet, when the puppets hit the stage, two things magically happened -- the puppeteers disappeared and the puppets came to life. The magic was alive and well onstage!
One of our core missions at Slidell Little Theatre is to educate the community in theatrical productions, and I like to think that the information we expect to provide in future editions of Prologue will further enhance that mission, as well as tell the untold story of the talented people in our community who oftentimes labor in obscurity to bring live theatre to our audiences.
As noted earlier, the plan is ultimately to involve all mediums, including audio bites and video clips in future publications.
But for now, baby steps. Of course, we would love to publish a paper edition, but without a corporate sponsor to help defray the costs, it is simply cost prohibitive at this time.
Even before the last champagne bubble has burst in our celebration of the launch of Prologue, we are already working on the layout for Volume 1, Number 2 – Duck Hunter Shoots Angel.

If you have an interest in contributing to any edition of Prologue (or even this blog), please feel free to email me at VPMarketing@slidelllittletheatre.org. We’d love to have you.

About the Author:
Don Redman is a volunteer member of the Slidell Little Theatre Board of Directors, serving as Vice President of Marketing. He also the self-appointed editor of Prologue, a position he intends to hold until the second someone else steps up to take over the publication. He is a former multiple-award-winning journalist and former managing editor of a now-defunct newspaper on the northshore. He currently is employed on the editorial staff of a regional travel magazine.

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