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Mass Participation TV Potentials!
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Are you an actor waiting for a great role? Why not create it yourself? That's right, create and promote your own show, build your audience, invite other performers to contribute. It's your show so you can build it exactly how you wish!
by N J Howell
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I developed a character and wrote and performed in original videos for a couple of years, on a free platform that was then provided by a company called Theatrics. Beckinfield was the name of the series where Leda Jo was birthed. It was a strange town with UFO's, ghosts, men in black and oddball community leaders. Since then, the site has closed but I'm hoping there are others out there to step in for this awesome experience.
Mass Participation tv is where different folks, from all over the world, can create a story together, based on a storyline given by the creators of the MPTV project. In the case of theatrics, I first started with their web series called Beckinfield. I was part of the Beckinfield storyline for a couple of years, as Leda Jo Gupta, owner of Leda Jo's Bar and Grill (home of the 15-toppin' potato and the famous Leda-Rita, world's largest margarita).
I wrote Leda Jo as being from Mississippi, just because I love that accent so much. It has a melody and rhythm to it that are so expressive and fun. It's one of my favorite southern dialects.
Speaking of Mississippi, I once did a one-woman adaptation of Eudora Welty's "Why I Live at the PO" with Ms. Welty's permission and it was the most fun I think I've ever had on stage. I got a hand-written letter from Eudora Welty which would probably be worth something in monetary terms now, if I could find it. However, it's worth something in my being forever, whether I ever find it again or it ois gone.
So Leda Jo was my introduction to mass participation tv and I loved her so. Later on, theatrics attempted to branch out into letting us start our own shows. I created one called Shadrach Village and participated in a couple of other shows by Beckinfielders. It was great fun and I was sad when it ended but it did highlight the potential. Since theatrics has closed their site I am unsure whether or not I'll be moving Shadrach Village to another website or maybe making a short film from it at some point in the future. Please follow my twitter for updates: @cosmicholistic on twitter
Anyone can start a web series if they have a good storyline (or even if they don't but what's the point then?) but the main considerations are the cost of bandwidth. For example, when Beckinfield was at the peak of my experience with it, there were weeks when there were hundreds of videos uploaded. All those videos had to be stored so they could be replayed. Imagine the space needed over a couple of years. Add to this the weekly update videos that were posted and all the profile information for the members and you can see that it takes a massive amount of space to host an MPTV project of any duration and scope.
One potential might be youtube but I'm not sure how much you could actually store before you'd have to pay for premium space on any free resource. One thing is for sure, there is a market for this so someone will most likely create a platform again. Til then, keep writing great stories and creating great characters and be ready when the next opportunity presents itself online! I haven't ruled out a kickstarter campaign for my series, Shadrach Village. There's a lot of fun stuff already written!
Synopsis of my original web series, previously hosted on the Theatrics Platform:
Shadrach Village, Where Dreams Can Breathe... Princess Oleska Invites You! Special thanks to Sharon and Richie McKnight for terrific editing of my intro as well as several other videos for the series. Sharon and Richie also played characters on the show and as such, housed Shadrach Village in their old plumbing warehouse!
Shadrach Village is a rather magical place in an abandoned warehouse where creative souls come to remember and enliven their dreams. At Shadrach Village, there is a magical lion named Leo who shows up whenever Villagers or townfolk are in trouble so you can see it really is a magical place. Living at the village is rustic living. When the village started there wasn't even running water. Soon, thanks to the generosity of an annonymous donor, there was a flushing toilet and another befriender donated cell phones! At the time the theatrics website came down, there was still no electricity in the the old Flushing Warehouse but the Villagers were resourceful and candles created nice ambience.
Shadrach Village was my personal show and concept on the theatrics platform, peopled with fellow actors from Beckinfield who create a fun and interesting cast. Shadrach Village is just one example of what was once possible in the new Theatrics Platform. I'm so proud of the cast. Each character is so unique and adds something special to the village. I hope I can take the concept (I own that, not theatrics, another nice perk of their free MPTV site) and recreate Shadrach Village elsewhere.
Shadrach Village was and will continue to be a pg show with an uplifting theme if I ever get around to writing a script and creating a gofundme page! Other characters I've had fun playing on theatrics included Nurse Gertrude on The Edge of Sanity and the lovely Nanny Spratt of The Castle Hassle. I got to experiment with comedic German and Cockney accents, and develop original characters on these shows as well. If I'd had time, I think I could have honed in on the accents and also the character development. As it is, Nurse Gertrude and Nanny Spratt remain two characters I can pull out of my hat for improvs or auditions, where accuracy of accents is not as important as comedic impact. That is no small gift to have come out of this experience. Two other former Beckinfielders were the show runners for Edge of Sanity and The Castle Hassle, my friends Iulia Nastaste and Tina Lee Johnson.
Leda Jo, the character that started it all for me: