The National Women's Theatre Festival

What is a streaming technician?


Oh look, there’s one now, it’s Mikki Stith!

Last week, Abby Davis told us all about The digital theatre learning curve and how the 2020 Women’s Theatre Festival transitioned to livestreaming virtual theatre productions! 

But what exactly does a streaming technician do? 

A streaming technician is part stage manager, part streamer, part house manager. 

On most streams that you see on and other livestreaming platforms, the performing artist, technical department, and front of house staff are all the same person! But virtual theatre is even more complicated than traditional livestreams, so all WTFringe shows have a designated streaming technician. This makes sure that creatives can focus on the show!

Techs are typically in the Zoom call (where our actors are), in OBS Studio (our open broadcasting software that lets us overlay graphics, and special effects), AND in Twitch (our streaming platform and virtual stage, where the audience is hanging out)! Some productions during the Women’s Theatre Festival may even have multiple streaming technicians running around our digital backstage area. 

During the performance, the streaming technician calls the show just like a stage manager. They let the actors know when the house is open, ie. when our Starting Soon screen is up and the stream is live, but no one is in front of a camera yet. Then, they tell the actors when the show is starting, as well as call and carry out cues throughout the production. In some cases, audio and visual cues may have to be audibly told to actors while they are acting. Anyone who has performed in a WTFringe can tell you, sometimes it feels more like a newsroom than a theatre! If technical issues arise, it is also the role of the stream tech to turn on a Be Right Back screen and explain to our audience in the chat that we’ll return soon. 

Streaming is just like all live events: anything can happen! Sometimes… your stream just dies. There’s nothing you can do if the internet is out or if there’s a power outage or if your neighbors decide that now is the perfect time to hammer on the wall next to your streaming room. It happens to even the biggest names in streaming. 

And also just like live theatre, part of the fun is making the most of the challenges and making the art form your own.

I started streaming to get more comfortable with public speaking. Then I realized that it was the perfect opportunity for artists to repurpose their time creating art to build an audience and monetize their creation process while hanging out with friends! If you had told me back then that streaming would become essential in order for some artists to create at all, I wouldn’t have believed you. But it is our present reality. 

Current events have only helped everyone realize what streamers already know: Live streaming is another valid and awesome art form! And I’m thrilled to see the Women’s Theatre Festival at the forefront of livestreamed theatrical productions, and to be part of it all as a streaming technician. 

See you in chat! #BleedPurple

Mikki Stith (she/her) is a performing artist and marketer dedicated to celebrating and advocating for artists throughout the Triangle. She\’s the founder of the Your Creativity Business podcast and the Raleigh Community Meetup, Powered by Twitch, the Twitch-official networking group for local streaming enthusiasts. When she isn\’t helping artists promote and monetize their art, she\’s watching sci-fi in cosplay while drinking a stout.

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