To Boldly Go Where No Theater Has Gone Before

by Alice Hodge

in Audience (R)Evolution

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(This post is a part of the Audience (R)Evolution grant program and blog salon.)

[To be read with Morgan Freeman’s voice] It’s not every day the 5,000 year old tradition of theater collides with the intensely modern, seemingly just-born world of smartphone apps. Theater has always reveled in equal parts past and present, imagination and thinking big. Really, really big: we create worlds.

[Enough of the Morgan Freeman voice…] So what happens when a theater decides to venture into the world of technology? Into mobile apps? Well, we think big. Really, really big. We thought up intricate social meetup networks, games to rival “Words with Friends,” role playing “create your own play” games, theater bingo! You name it, we thought of it. We thought of ways to incentivize, engage, gamify. Like I said, we are really good at thinking big.

But mobile apps require coding, programming and a whole set of knowledge that would probably take me a whole lot of school and headaches to unpack and download. In short, thinking big is easy – the actual creation of our vision requires professionals. We had to outsource the actual creation of the app. And also we had to articulate, streamline and codify what we want and what is realistically achievable. That’s where we started with our first tech partners PERKA and The Program.

With their help, we created a Scope of Work and developed a more realistic timeline. The Scope of Work included creating a responsive web app that would feature a login/account link with our ticketing database, Tessitura, and with PERKA in which users can collect and redeem rewards and well as remote and on-location sign up. Also a big part of the scope of work includes exciting design development incorporating “gaming” strategies. This phase was to be completed for BETA testing by December 2014.  Then we hit a bump.  One of our tech partners was being acquired and all work stopped.  After six months of worrying and wondering, our other partner introduced us to Watson Creative, our new tech partner!

Watson creative is able to serve as a “one-stop-shopping” tech partner, serving the function of both our previous tech partners.  We now have a new Scope of Work draft, a new time-line, and an exciting new direction.  Watson’s track record and impressive list of clientele (The Denver Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers to name a few) have presented exciting new opportunities and direction.  We look forward to sharing the next steps.

[And back to the Morgan Freeman voice] And then we will explore new worlds, seek out new ways of engaging with our audiences and boldly go where no theater has gone before.

alice_hodge_headshotAlice Hodge is the Marketing and Communications Associate at Portland Center Stage. Prior to PCS, she worked for Portland State University’s Office of Communications, Ecova – a leading energy consulting firm, and as the Office Manager for Aquila Theater Company. Pacific Northwest born and bred, she is a proud graduate of Western Washington University with a degree in Theater Arts. She shares her home with her husband, dog, cat and four chickens.


Audience (R)Evolution is a four-stage program to study, promote and support successful audience engagement and community development models across the country. The Audience (R)Evolution grant program was designed by TCG and is funded by Doris Duke.