Cloud Theatres, a new online ticketed streaming platform, has emerged to fill up gaps in the Malaysian theatre industry in the wake of the pandemic.
It started when William Yap, a local theatre director/actor, wanted to help the theatre scene. He saw many theatre practitioners sidelined during the movement control order (MCO) with theatre venues shut.
Yap wanted to create shows online but he did not want to put them up for free.
He teamed up with Dennis Lee, a fellow actor who is the co-founder of Appleseeds.my, a web and app design and development company.
Both of them forged ahead and co-founded Cloud Theatres, a platform for theatremakers to put their shows online, screen them at a particular time and date, and only allow access to those with (virtual) tickets.
Reimagining theatre online
“Cloud Theatres is a reimagined theatre experience with endless possibilities. It’s a ticketing solution and a streaming platform. We also try to mimic the physical theatre experience, where we try to engage the audience and the performers, ” said Lee during an interview in Petaling Jaya.
This platform aims to make the online theatre experience as easy and enjoyable as possible for audience members and theatre practitioners.
To watch a show, audiences can visit Cloud Theatre’s website, select a show time, and make a payment online. Viewers will then receive an access code: their unique “ticket” for the show.
“This is to prevent sharing. With other platforms like Facebook or YouTube, once you get the link to the show, it can be passed to other people. But with Cloud, one code only allows one viewing, ” said Yap.
Ticket buyers will also receive reminders for their selected show through SMS and email half an hour before it starts.
For theatre practitioners, they simply need to upload or livestream their shows to Cloud Theatres through a simple process.
Cloud Theatres’ platform contains several practical features, including a guestbook for audience members to sign, a donation button, live chat for interaction, the option to upload the show’s programme and cast details, daily ticket sales updates, and other data tracking.
Thanks to a wedding video
Developing the Cloud Theatres programme, Yap and Lee said, would normally have taken months at least. However, luck was on their side. A few years ago, Appleseeds was approached by a client who wanted to broadcast his wedding online, as he had many friends and family overseas.
Appleseeds developed a programme for it. Once the wedding was over, the programme was put aside. It was brought back after Yap approached Lee, who realised it could be adapted to broadcast shows as well.
Since the major groundwork had already been done, the programme only needed some adjustments, and Cloud Theatres was created in about three weeks.
Since its creation in late May 2020, the platform has hosted seven shows, including Tales From Amma’s Kitchen, Reflections and Zoom Parah.
The platform has a series of shows lined up for the rest of the year, including The Ice Kacang Project from Penangpac, The Boutique Of Dreams by DPAC Live and Living Together by CaiHong G.
The response has been good, with Zoom Parah’s two-show run last month selling over 1,000 virtual tickets, with an audience from over 20 countries.
Other previous productions, including Old Bird, sold over 200 tickets in a week, while another show The Storyteller ... Because You Are A Woman sold over 400 tickets in the same amount of time.
How to get online
Putting a show on Cloud Theatre requires a RM500 refundable deposit, together with an event setup fee of RM50 per show. There will also be a ticket handling fee of RM2 per ticket issued, and the standard payment gateway fees.
There was supposed to be a one-time platform fee of RM500, but the company is waiving that until Dec 31.
“The goal is to get as many people to try this out and see how it can help them as much as possible, ” said Lee.
While this project was created during these pandemic times of pandemic, the duo behind it are determined to make it a long-term project.
The company has also created a new platform My Cloud Wedding.
While they were primarily focused on online theatre now, the duo said they are looking to showcase other forms of media such as indie films, documentaries and music performances.
“We love physical theatre. That’s why we’re doing this. Some people ask, do you think this will replace physical theatre? I say no, impossible!” said Yap.
“We want this platform to co-exist with physical theatre to give audiences more choice. This platform can help theatre reach a wider audience, without geographical boundaries. It also encourages theatremakers to think out of the box, ” said Lee.
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