SXSW Update: Artistic Collaborations Via Skype

I’m sitting in on a panel of innovators from live entertainment who are experimenting with using Skype to create dramatic performances delivered live stream into peoples’ homes. You Wouldn’t Know Her, She Lives in London/You Wouldn’t Know Him, He Lives in Texas is an interactive, multimedia, site-specific theatrical experience.

The Austin Chronicle says it’s, “Way more casual and intimate than its premise might sound.” The action occurs in three different locales simultanteously: a loft across from the Longbranch Inn, the Roundhouse in London, and online, for anyone with bandwidth across the world to watch and participate in the story (via live streaming at

The audience members are encouraged to meet one another and mingle and tweet live during the performance (with the comments also projected in real time on the screen).

Making interaction a central part of a show is a risky business. Being able to use a smartphone to contribute an idea for a character that the actors respond to is powerful.

What is most exciting about this experiment is that it sets out to bring classic culture–live theatre–into the digital culture. Rather than using the potency of social media to tweet about Kim Kardashian’s booty or Charlie Sheen’s hysteria, this ambitious project invites meaningful human interactions. And audiences have stepped up to deliver quality content via Twitter and Facebook.

Metrics: Audience is cross-Atlantic and has quadrupled since project inception. Average viewing time is 22 minutes.

The project reminds me of the New Paradise Lab in Philly that I describe in Tipping the Culture along with tips on how to leverage social media to attract young audiences. Download it. It’s FREE. Really. No strings.