15 apps and websites to make your theater life easier

I love app lists. I’m always looking for great apps and websites to make my life easier, and as a DIY director and/or producer, technology can be your best friend. If your operation doesn’t have deep pockets or a large staff, these tools can be real time and money savers.
Included are apps and sites that will help you with marketing, finances, and daily business.

Google productsimage

I use Gmail, Drive, and the Calendar every single day. They sync to my phone and tablet, and they’re among the most sophisticated, yet easy to use, programs of their kind – and entirely free.

Real world application: Gmail is a powerful email client, and all contacts are automatically saved. It also syncs with Drive, so anything emailed to you is saved in your Drive cloud – which allows you to access it from anywhere. Drive allows you to store and create documents and share them with anyone. It features a collaboration element, so everyone on your team can edit the same document at the same time. Changes are automatically saved. Also, if you own your domain name (URL), you can hook it into Gmail to make a custom email address – for free (yourname@yourcompanyname.com), even if you don’t have a website up yet.

Goodreaderimage

This is a PDF reader and annotation tool. I have it for my tablet. If you have a script in PDF form, this allows you to read it and easily mark it up. Any director worth his or her salt is marking up a script, and this makes it easy and convenient. Any change made is automatically saved. The app makes a copy of your original – so you’ll have a clean PDF and an annotated PDF. Super convenient. About $5.

Docracy.comimage

Public legal documents, available for download. If you don’t have immediate access to a lawyer, and you need a simple form, this is a good place to look. The documents are uploaded by lawyers (so they say). Real world application: for example, you need to rent a venue for a show – this is a good place to look for a simple agreement that can be signed by both parties. The documents can be saved and customized. Free.

Expensify.comimage

Track expenses and create reports. Makes accounting a little simpler, especially if you do it yourself. Not everyone has access to a good accountant, so this is a great way to stay organized. Free for personal use, inexpensive for a company.

IBDBimage

Internet Broadway Database. Producing a play and want to know its Broadway history? This is the app/site for you. Like the famous IMDB is for movies, this is for Broadway. I use it to see when shows originated, when they had revivals, who starred in them, and what awards they won. On the web and available in an app.

Folgerdigitaltexts.orgimage

This amazing site is courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library. They have digitized, and made completely searchable, the entire catalog of their versions of Shakespeare’s plays (the best researched and best edited of all versions, in my opinion). A fantastic resource for anyone doing anything with Shakespeare. It’s completely free. The only downside is that the opposite-page notes aren’t there – you need to pay for the paper versions to get that feature. Not a big deal.

Opensourceshakespeare.org

Another fantastic Shakespeare site. This site uses the Moby Shakespeare from the late 19th century, so it isn’t as polished and edited as the Folger versions, but it’s still an excellent source. The site allows you to dissect the plays. It gives you the freedom to search specific characters and see all of their lines independently from the rest of the play. When you see Hamlet’s speeches presented in this form, you really start to feel for every actor who has ever played him. In addition to gawking at how many lines the lead characters have, it can also help you with character doubling.

PayPal.comimage

Anyone who has ever used EBay or paid for anything online knows about PayPal. But it also makes every financial move for a fledgling theater company much easier. Patrons can pay for tickets or merchandise directly from your website, and they can use their PayPal accounts or credit cards. Additionally, with the added PayPal Here attachment for your tablet for phone, you can actually swipe credit cards on the spot. Then, you can download a spreadsheet of all the paid reservations and send the money directly into your bank account. Makes finances easy and professional. Honestly, I’d be lost without it. Small, per-transaction fee.

Eventbrite.comimage
I use this site when I don’t want to handle any of the ticket logistics myself. You set up your event, create the link button, and everything happens automatically. Your customers pay through the Eventbrite site and are emailed their tickets with your customized logo on it. The site even keeps track of how many people are coming and can export all of the data to you in a spreadsheet. Of course, there’s a fee, but it’s per ticket and minimal.

Powwow(usepowwow.com)

A site for scheduling appointments. You can use it for scheduling auditions very easily. The people auditioning sign up in the available slots and you see it automatically, saving you the headache of having to do that yourself. Works best if you’re announcing auditions on the web or through other electronic sources.

Mailchimp

Free email marketing. Organize your lists, create campaigns, and get stats. Makes it very easy to bulk email, and it helps make sure that your message avoids the spam bin. Recipients can opt out on their own using a link. For a free service, it’s worth it.

Weebly/Wordpressimageimage
The first is a free website creator that is quite good. The second is a powerful blogging/website platform that is the standard in the field. Weebly has a slight learning curve, but it very user friendly and will have you creating a website in minutes. A custom URL will cost you, though. If you’re looking for flexibility, go with WordPress. It’s an expense, and a tougher learning curve, but it is absolutely worth it. You need a web presence. These will help you get there.

Vistaprint.comimage
This is a great company that specializes in all types of marketing materials, but they’re probably best known for printing business cards. Top quality, easy to use tools, and very reasonable prices. The site also saves all of your previous orders. Without business cards, you may as well not exist.

Lucidpress.com and Pixlr.com – cloud based desktop publishingimage

Think InDesign and Photoshop. Then put them in web browsers, for a fair price (or free), and give them the collaborative features of Google Drive. Win. Win. Win. You now have no excuse to keep making crappy, unprofessional programs and flyers. There’s a learning curve, but if you have a brain and an hour you can figure it out. Works best on desktop browsers. Not really mobile or tablet friendly yet.

 Wackybuttons.comimage
I’m a huge proponent of using buttons to advertise and promote. They’re unintrusive conversation pieces that can be inserted into and onto any object or outfit. This site is terrific – you can get 100, 1-1/2 inch buttons for about $35, and the quality is unmatched. Read my post on button promotions here.

 

Shakespeare’s 450th: A selection of favorite speeches

Today, on Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, I’ve decided to post some powerful, well-known, or favorite speeches from his plays. Just a few, not all (I have a lot of favorites). These are the ones that resonate with me for one reason or another.
What they all have in common is that they explore some part of humanity. Shakespeare forces us to take a microscope to ourselves, and that’s what makes the work stand up to time – it isn’t dated, because human nature isn’t dated. As you read these speeches, don’t be afraid to stop, ponder, and re-read. You never know what gems are hiding in those rich words, or how they may affect you.

Macbeth
V.v.20

MACBETH She should have died hereafter.
There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

* * *

Hamlet
III.i.64

HAMLET
To be or not to be—that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And, by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep—
No more—and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to—’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep—
To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveler returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowardsof us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Issicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.—Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia.—Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remembered.

* * *

King Lear
II.iv.304

LEAR
O, reason not the need! Our basest beggars
Are in the poorest thing superfluous.
Allow not nature more than nature needs,
Man’s life is cheap as beast’s. Thou art a lady;
If only to go warm were gorgeous,
Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear’st,
Which scarcely keeps thee warm. But, for true
need—
You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need!
You see me here, you gods, a poor old man
As full of grief as age, wretched in both.
If it be you that stirs these daughters’ hearts
Against their father, fool me not so much
To bear it tamely. Touch me with noble anger,
And let not women’s weapons, water drops,
Stain my man’s cheeks.—No, you unnatural hags,
I will have such revenges on you both
That all the world shall—I will do such things—
What they are yet I know not, but they shall be
The terrors of the earth! You think I’ll weep.
No, I’ll not weep.
I have full cause of weeping, but this heart
Storm and tempest.
Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws
Or ere I’ll weep.—O Fool, I shall go mad!

* * *

Julius Caesar 
III.ii.82

ANTONY
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interrèd with their bones.
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious.
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answered it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest
(For Brutus is an honorable man;
So are they all, all honorable men),
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me,
But Brutus says he was ambitious,
And Brutus is an honorable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome,
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill.
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept;
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff.
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,
And Brutus is an honorable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse. Was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,
And sure he is an honorable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause.
What cause withholds you, then, to mourn for
him?—
O judgment, thouart fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason!—Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

* * *

Henry V
III.i.1

KING HENRY
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once
more,
Or close the wall up with our English dead!
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility,
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger:
Stiffen the sinews,summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favored rage,
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect,
Let it pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon, let the brow o’erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a gallèd rock
O’erhang and jutty his confounded base
Swilled with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth, and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath, and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, younoblest English,
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof,
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought,
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument.
Dishonor not your mothers. Now attest
That those whom you called fathers did beget you.
Be copy now tomen of grosser blood
And teach them how to war. And you, good
yeomen,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture. Let us swear
That you are worth your breeding, which I doubt
not,
For there is none of you so mean and base
That hath not noble luster in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot.
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry “God for Harry, England, and Saint George!”

* * *

Richard III
I.i.1

RICHARD
Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this son of York,
And all the clouds that loured upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths,
Our bruisèd arms hung up for monuments,
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
Grim-visaged war hath smoothed his wrinkled front;
And now, instead of mounting barbèd steeds
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
He capers nimbly in a lady’s chamber
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking glass;
I, that am rudely stamped and want love’s majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time
Into this breathing world scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them—
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to see my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity.
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determinèd to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
By drunken prophecies, libels, and dreams,
To set my brother Clarence and the King
In deadly hate, the one against the other;
And if King Edward be as true and just
As I am subtle, false, and treacherous,
This day should Clarence closely be mewed up
About a prophecy which says that “G”
Of Edward’s heirs the murderer shall be.
Dive, thoughts, down to my soul. Here Clarence
comes.

* * *

As You Like It
II.vii.146:

JAQUES All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

 

Obligatory clip art birthday cake.
Obligatory clip art birthday cake.