The Ogre and Evernote

It's casting season again for Wilton Children's Theater, this year we are producing Shrek the Musical. This means a whole lot of things on the creative side, like casting, rehearsals, sets, costumes and the like. It also means integrating appropriate technology into the process even more than before.

In the past I have discussed how DropBox aided in the Hun invasion of China during Mulan and I had started a post, but never finished it, about how Notes Plus and Bento (the short-lived consumer database product from FileMaker) helped in getting a Beauty together with a Beast but we added something new to the mix this year.

I have been lucky in that all of the people that I work with on my show, from producers to set and costume people to my High School Staff to my choreographer and musical director, are tech savvy. At least they are tech tolerant.

This year we are still using DropBox to pass files around but might be switching to Google Drive to manage documents. We tried it early on while discussing cuts to the script and it was an interesting experience watching my then musical director live editing one paragraph as I was writing another. Sounds like a great collaborative tool.

The big news this year was the use of Evernote in managing notes and data during auditions. It was a little clunky at first but once we figured out what the issues were it worked! Here's what we did:

  • I created a Notebook for auditions and upgraded to pro so I could have other people edit. 
  • I invited the two producers, musical director, choreographer and high school staff to the notebook giving them all the ability to modify and add notes using the wifi in the school building where we do the show.
  • As the student actors arrived the four staff, 3 iPhones and an iPad, went through the crowd taking head shots and adding them to the actor's existing note. These all became available to me, Macbook Pro, my musical director on his iPhone and my Choreographer via her iPad.
  • As auditions progressed, Acting in the auditorium, Dance in another large space and Music in the music room, the data was instantly available to me whenever I synched with the cloud.
  • When we convened for discussions on callbacks at the end of the evening's festivities we all had each other's notes and ratings so the discussion happened very quickly without shuffling through paper cards with Polaroids stapled to them. 
  • By using tags for the actor's gender, age, last name and first name it was easy to sort and to look at subsets of the group. 
  • Using the search feature we could search notes for numerical ratings in the music and dance categories.
Bottom line is that we finished on time and with very little fuss thanks to Evernote. Was it perfect? No but it was an amazing experience and one which we all thought worth the effort to try. 

Will we use it again? Absolutely.