Group or Page: What’s best on Facebook for an arts company?

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I’ve been a fan for a long time of the blog/website as the hub of an individual’s or a group’s digital world.  Couple a blog with various outlier social networking applications like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and so on, and you expand your outreach.  Not everyone uses social networking, though with over half a million signing up every day for Facebook, that most ubiquitous of apps, it’s kind of hard to believe. Facebook at the end of 2010 was the leading social network in the world.

Nowadays with the gradual federation of apps and services ‘talking’ to one another, it’s possible to provide a way for just about anyone with access to the web to engage with you, your group, and others who want to get in contact.

If you maintain a blog as your hub, the downside is that you you almost always have to travel outside your hub to access outlier material, though this is getting easier – see my post on using Friendfeed in this way. [UPDATE: Friendfeed sadly is no longer the wunderkind of aggregating services it once was. FYI it was bought out by Facebook]

On most blogs you can set up links or widgets that show your latest status on Facebook, your latest Tweets and those of the people your follow, your photos from Flickr, an RSS feed to keep readers up to date with your posts and so on.

Is there a one-stop for all of this, as well as an app that goes where most of the activity is?  Well, with the imminent demise or at least withering on the vine of the really good Friendfeed, it seems that Facebook has a way.  A current Facebook user can set up a page to leverage his or her ‘business.’  I’ve posted some links below that give you a solid introduction to what these ‘business’ Pages are, and how they differ from Facebook Groups.

Whatever you do, don’t use a Facebook Profile (regular ‘personal’ page) for your group.

You’ll max out at 5,000 friends, and you’re aiming for more than that, right?

Facebook Pages vs Facebook Groups: What’s the Difference?
This comprehensive post from the Mashable folk is really all you need to know to make a decision.

Marketing Your Business on Facebook

Facebook Business: Page or a Group? (video)

Leveraging a Facebook Business Page (video)

From Custodian to Curator – the challenge for the digital age

I was a conference delegate last month at the Apple University Consortium’s 2009 Create World Conference.  Justin Macdonnell, a keynote presenter put some nicely provocative issues to the floor of digital arts creatives and creative arts academics gathered at Griffith University in Brisbane.

Justin’s keynote, ‘In the Absence of Criticism’ revolved around a couple of questions.  Firstly, in an increasingly web-based world how can we ensure our ‘repository’ of arts-related digital materials are looked after and curated adequately? He was concerned that a failure in the technology, a lack of provenance and critical discourse could mean the obliteration of so much of what he calls our ‘communal memory.’  We could end up, he noted, living in a state of the continual present. Continue reading “From Custodian to Curator – the challenge for the digital age”

Hold the slings and arrows: stocktaking Queensland theatre (Act 1)

If you subscribe to theatre-related blogs, then your feed-reader during the past week or so will be overflowing with posts where the words ‘Outrageous Fortune’ will almost certainly appear.  It’s the title of a new book on the state of American playwrighting, and it’s getting the best kind of publicity on the web – the free sort – for its authors Todd London, Ben Pesner, and Zannie Giraud Voss.  Linked to Outrageous Fortune‘s contents, and extending the ongoing discussion into the state of play of contemporary US theatre, is a report by another American critic, Terry Teachout – more on this below.

There are plenty of complaints in the back and forth generated by Outrageous Fortune.   The book claims contemporary ‘institutional theatre’ in the US – the system – is broken; it is certainly not playing fair with its own writers.  Why not?  The same plays – not all by fellow Americans – are being produced over and over again, and the business of keeping companies open for business has virtually imposed a ‘safe’ production environment for theatre managements.  The result is that not enough new work by contemporary American dramatists is appearing on US stages. Continue reading “Hold the slings and arrows: stocktaking Queensland theatre (Act 1)”

Accent or Dialect?

An interesting blog post on OurBrisbane.com today – it’s a performing arts blog run by Brisbane playwright Katherine Lyall-Watson – caught my attention.  It had me reaching for the keyboard; it was about one of my favourite topics, something I’ve been dealing with for years – voice training, specifically dialect and accent work for performance.  I can’t resist when I see the terms dialect and accent used interchangeably, and incorrectly.  Voice coach pedantry, OK?  However, I didn’t have much luck logging in to the site for some reason – there is only so long you can wait for the spinning beach ball to come to rest – so I decided to write a response of my own.

Here’s the response I would have posted if I had been able.  Bear in mind others may use the words differently, but most of the voice and speech coaches I know tend to agree on this usage of the words when working with actors.

First up – the question of  accent,  or should that be dialect of spoken English?

Many voice coaches use this differentiation: accent is what you hear when a non-native speaker uses English – there are echoes (stronger or lighter) of his or her own native language in an accent. Dialect, on the other hand, is a variation on English spoken by a native speaker of English – so, more correctly, we speak of Australian dialects, American dialects, UK dialects of English – and of course, there are varieties in these. Linguists might carp a bit about what might be termed a simplistic differentiation, but this is the one that hits home for most.

Helen (Howard -voice coach) is absolutely right in what she notes about work on dialect or accent for performance – and it applies whether you are working on dialect or accent.  No quibbles at all.  Equally, the audience can pick inconsistencies really quickly, so this is a key requirement – keep your changes few but consistent.

When it comes to the original query from actor Dirk about whether or not an actor should use an ‘accent,’ I’ve come across this one over the years most often when I’ve been directing or voice-coaching a play translated from another language.  A recent example that springs to mind is ‘God of Carnage‘ by Yasmina Reza (recently performed at Queensland Theatre Company) trans. into English by Christopher Hampton from the original French.  If you saw the show you’d know that the Australian actors used their own Australian dialects, and that no attempt was made to use French accents (Dieu merci!), meanwhile the locales referred to were still clearly French.  The current Broadway production was spoken with American dialects, and I can’t be certain, but I think locales may well have been relocated!

I recall being asked once when working on a Chekhov play whether or not Russian accents should be used … and then how to differentiate ‘class divisions’ or regional differences which clearly existed in them.  The answer to the first is ‘no’ (see The God of Carnage example).  However, some of Chekhov’s characters are non-Russian; how does one express their foreign-ness linguistically?  Clearly, in the original, they would speak Russian with a German/French (etc) accent.  The director/voice coach usually decide upon something like this – the ‘locals’ use their own dialect of English (it’s in translation, right?) whilst the foreigner speaks a dialect of English (Australian/American/British/Canadian/NZ etc etc) in a German/French (etc) accent as per the original.

Class is trickier.  I remember for years in the UK hearing servants or members of the ‘lower orders’ using Cockney – as the dialect of choice!  Times have changed, and we’ve got a little more flexible about all of this.  RP doesn’t rule any more for the upper classes either.  Linguistic diversity, like colour-blind casting, is part of the contemporary stage.

One thing that doesn’t change however, and as Helen rightly points out, is that actors must work at whatever choices have been made regarding this key part of characterisation.