It has been six months since the launch of our THEATER ViSiONS website and we would like to take the time to say how grateful we are for your support. This goes for each and every one of you who have browsed our website or followed our monthly (or sometimes twice monthly) ViSiONS BLoG. Or followed us on social media: Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. For everyone who has taken a class or workshop or seen a production. For all of you who have been rooting for us behind the scenes (you know who you are) and those who have influenced and shaped our theatrical perceptions and skills over the years. A big hearty THANK YOU!!! And to our new Bulgarian friends and advocates, МНОГО БЛАГОДАРЯ!!!
Since the website was launched on 9 May, 2020 we have had over 500 visitors to the website from 23 countries, and nearly 1,700 views. We are very thankful for each and everyone of you especially for your support during this quiet time for us. The “Thank yous” in the featured image reflect the languages spoken in those countries and the text size roughly relates to how many visitors. And we are just getting started! We look forward to serving our local community of Sofia, all of Bulgaria and beyond its borders in the months and years to come. Follow our ViSiONS BLoG to get monthly updates from us.
Huge THANK YOU’S also go to our Advisory Board members, Vera Frengova, Desislava Duridanova and Milena Aneva, who are truly inspiring. Your guidance, support and suggestions have been invaluable.
And the biggest THANK YOU of all goes to my wife, who has been a listener, fellow dreamer, editor, translator and producer in the short time of the little over a year that we have been an NGO (non-govermental organization).
Like most companies nowadays we are reevaluating our plans and figuring out how to move forward effectively. As a theater company this has meant considering the possibility of moving much of what we do into video format and shifting it online. Also should we apply for the government funding that is meant to assist with sustaining the cultural industry that has been so greatly affected by the pandemic due to shut downs and greatly reduced capacity. Certainly there are many arts organizations, large and small, who have done one or both of these things.
After careful consideration, THEATER ViSiONS have decided, at this time, to do neither of those things. Although the possibility of recording performances and offering classes and workshops online is certainly viable, we do not at this time believe this is the best way forward for our company. Our strength lies in the rehearsal room, whether it be preparing for a performance or working with students. We thrive on that interpersonal connection and the energy that comes from collaboration. It is true that these things can be achieved to a degree through the latest technologies, but that it would also involve an investment of resources, which represents a commitment, towards making this decision work. We would rather use our company resources to go in a different, and hopefully, more sustainable direction. To this end, look for future blog posts that will reveal more information in due time (for a sneak peek). As for pursuing funding, we are in a unique and somewhat fortunate position. Because we are a new company with no full-time employees and no building, it means we do not have the administrative or overhead costs associated with these either. Since that is the case, we would rather allow companies with greater need apply for these funds. Instead we will focus our energy on upcoming projects and use our time and resources towards bringing new artistic endeavours into existence.
Being a theatre professional for well over twenty years and an educator for fifteen of those, I have learned how to take care of my voice. Do I need to be heard by the crowds at an outdoor performance? How about an auditorium full of high school students? The PA system is down at an event and you need to get everyone’s attention? Consider all three of them done. You want me to wear a mask all day and teach through it? Exhausting.
Regardless of where you stand on the mask issue, the fact remains that some of us are required to wear one while at work. From my point of view, it’s an inconvenience. Is it temporary? Yes. Does it hurt me? No. If it helps people feel safe and gives me some peace of mind when it comes to protecting my own family then I can certainly put up with it. If you are struggling to communicate in the mask or just find yourself tired from doing it all day then continue reading.
The truth is I find the situation amusing (sometimes) and rather absurd. So I had some fun when it came to titling this blog post. Some of the alternate titles I came up with were: “Can You Hear Me Now?,” “How Come Darth Vader Sounds Cool and I Sound like a Fool?,” “Say WHAT?,” “Mas(k) Communication,” and a personal favorite, “Wha’chu Talkin’ ’bout Willis?“
As for the talking in a mask, admittedly, it took me a couple of weeks to get my sea legs, but during that time I did a little research for how I can make it a bit easier on myself and my hearers. As a result, I have put together some things to consider when trying to communicate in a mask. Also some basic healthy preparations you can take and, of course, practicals for how to actually try and get across what you wish to convey. These pointers are helpful whether you are speaking to an individual or large groups. These pointers are not exhaustive, but should give you some useful information as well as simple reminders in a concise format.
Embedded below is a pdf of some of my findings combined with my thoughts added in. I hope that this will be useful to you and if it is, please, feel free to share it with others. Do you have some ideas of your own? Add them to the comments below. The file is also available for download on our RESoURCeS page. Stay well and best of luck!
The cast is in place, recording is well under way and we are excited that next month we plan to bring you our first audio drama. For our first podcast we selected an old-time radio show from the tail end of what is known as the Golden Age of Radio and we are presenting it intact including commercials from their sponsor, Autolite. Our recording process has been one of experimentation so it will take a bit longer, but we hope the results will be worth the wait.
You may recall our blog post last month (Audio Theatre Coming Soon) announcing the results of our poll where voters selected mystery as the genre. We are recording a broadcast from an original American radio drama known as Suspense. It was a premier program as it was on the air for over 20 years and, because of the superb writing, had a knack for getting some of the top name talent of the day. The episode we are recording is fittingly know as Summer Night and back when it aired in 1948 featured Ida Lupino as its star. You are probably not aware of the name Ida Lupino, but she began her career in England onstage and later became a prominent Hollywood movie actress. She had a keen eye and used her down time to watch aspects of filmmaking which benefitted her greatly as she went on to direct features for studios as well as for her own production company. She was even the first female to direct a film noir when she helmed The Hitch-Hiker in 1953.
We have other ideas brewing so join us on this foray in what we hope will be a new avenue for our company. We greatly value your support and aim to ingrain ourselves in the artistic and cultural scene of Sofia. The best way to do that is to know what you would like to see or hear in the future. Contact us to let us know what you think and help steer our programming. In this new world some things may take longer to come to fruition, but we greatly value your input.
Over the next few months look for some guest blogs from people involved with the company. We are also investigating other performance opportunities and hope to relaunch our some of our educational programming. If you would like to get involved there are numerous ways to do so. You can tell your friends, share about us on social media, or check our website for more possibilities.
Socially-distant theater. It, honestly, is sort of an oxymoron for me. Theater is vital and visceral. Socially distant, well, it’s neither of those things. We put our annual family summer show on hiatus so… now how can we do an interesting theater project and be socially responsible? I love old-time radio dramas so the idea occurred to me to produce some for the theater company. I have some experience with sound effects creation, sound editing and voice over work so this seemed like a great fit. Then, at the last Advisory Board meeting, the board members suggested to marry that idea with some educational content. Bam! A new an improved reason for doing a radio show!
What will the process look like? We will attempt to record the podcast online. In order to accomplish this the script is broken up into small segments to keep the time commitment small for the voice actors. Many of the sound effects and music will be added after all of the voice recording is done. Since it is our first effort we do not have funding and will be working off of the company reserves. If the project is successful we will then look for funding for future radio drama podcasts.
Educational content related to the script will be added to the website once the podcast is uploaded. We hope this will be a fun way to listen to some classic old-time radio dramas and digest some quality educational content which we will create to accompany the radio play.
If you are fan of old-time radio, never listened before or perhaps just want to brush up on some English language phrases, then check back towards the end of August as we hope to have the podcast and support material ready for you at that time.
Recently THEATER ViSiONS held a poll to select the genre of our first audio theater presentation. The choices were science fiction, detective, mystery/ suspense and western. The results were a resounding “yes” for mystery/ suspense with over 60% of the vote.
We have already begun reading scripts, checking copyright status, testing our recording equipment, refreshing our sound effects library and preparing our foley studio (also known as Mark‘s kitchen). Soon we will be recruiting voice actors for the podcast, however, please be aware that these are unpaid positions as this project has no funding at this time. If you are interested, check out our WoRK WiTH Us page for more details as they become available.
In keeping with our mission, we will be creating some English language downloads and resources to go along with the podcast to assist any English Language Leaners who would like to build their understanding and context competence. The podcast and support materials will be made available from our website as they are made ready for release. We hope you will join us as we begin our new venture into podcasting!
We have successfully navigated past the longest day of the year. That may seem like no big deal, but for me during the last few months many days felt like the longest day of the year. So let’s rejoice that perhaps, here in Bulgaria, the tide is turning. The weather has been good, the skies blue, the mountains a patchwork of green, and the air is clean.
What good news is coming up for THEATER ViSiONS? First off, we are gearing up to do our first Audio Theater podcast. If you haven’t already, go to our Home page or Facebook profile and vote for what genre we should start off with. Your choices are Mystery/ Suspense, Western, Detective, or Science Fiction.
Also we have been hard at work on building our website to best represent who we are and what we hope to achieve as a company. There’s lots there already with more pages coming soon. Take a look to find out more.
Also in the works are potential offerings for the fall and winter. We can’t announce anything yet because things are very indefinite about how groups can gather. When we are able to we will provide the details. Be sure to sign up for our blog to be the first to get the information when it becomes available.
That’s all for now. Whether you prefer the mountains or the seaside, get outside and enjoy your summer!
Less than two weeks ago the Bulgarian Government ended the quarantine and posted precautions about how to move forward. Largely, I believe the situation has been handled rather well and the communications pretty clear even through translation. These are huge, unprecedented decisions that are being and have been made so we want to extend a “thank you” to the medical officers, health care workers and politicians who have been doing their best under extraordinary circumstances.
With the knowledge of these extra precautions and public health concerns, we, as a company, made the decision that we have been expecting to announce for weeks. This summer, THEATER ViSiONS will NOT be staging our annual family summer show in the park. We are disappointed, but know that this is the right decision. We are a small company and attempting to implement appropriate precautions for our audiences as well as our performers would make it extremely difficult to adhere to these guidelines. So in the best interest and health of everyone concerned we won’t be staging an outdoor performance this year.
That does not mean we will be dormant, however. Keep checking our website for future developments. We have been researching, planning and making preparations not just for next summer, but hopefully some exciting announcements coming very soon!
Sofia, Bulgaria is a bustling, scenic, international, capital city. It’s easy to fall in love with the city and the country. With many global corporations and businesses and a vibrant arts and culture scene there are many options…in Bulgarian. At THEATER ViSiONS we embrace Bulgaria and it’s culture, but we offer programming in English. We stage our own productions, run a variety of workshops and classes, develop educational tours and serve as coproducer or presenter for English language performances.
Our ViSiON is to be a hub for English speakers living in Bulgaria. We invite you to attend our performances, get involved with our lively, interactive language workshops, our intriguing acting classes, request our educational school tour (in development) or come out / join our play reading group. We also aspire to promote Bulgarian culture to new audiences by offering Bulgarian plays in English.
THEATER ViSiONS also aims to assist in unifying the English language artistic offerings in Sofia by providing a cultural calendar, so submit your information to us.
We are happy you have taken the time to find us. THEATER ViSiONS offer theatre performances in English, acting classes and interactive English workshops for all ages. We are located in Sofia, Bulgaria and perform outdoors or in theatre venues. Stay tuned as our website and offerings are under construction.