In the wake of the current health crisis, many theatres around the world are unable to hold traditional performances with in-person audiences. But in the truest spirit of “the show must go on,” theatre artists have immediately pivoted to new and innovative ways of sharing live theatre, many through streamed events and performances.
When we launched PLAYBILLder, our online tool that makes building authentic Broadway-quality Playbill programs easy and fast, flexibility was our main goal, and so since 2013 we have offered the choice to create programs either for printing or for digital distribution. This feature has become more important than ever in the current moment, so we’re sharing some helpful tips for completing the online theatre experience with a fully digital Broadway-quality program that can be shared and viewed online with PLAYBILLder.
The process of building an online program is identical to building a program for print.
If you’re already a PLAYBILLder user, you’re in luck, because there is no difference between building a program for print versus building an online-only program. All of the templates work the exact same way—they just don’t get printed!
If you’re not familiar with using PLAYBILLder, don’t worry—our fully customizable templates make building a professional, Broadway-quality program as easy as filling out a few forms and creating documents in word processing software like Microsoft Word or Google Docs. We also have a helpful how-to guide that will make you a pro in no time.
Audience members can access your digital program with a PLAYBILLder.com link that does not require logging in.
When working on your program, you’ll see a “Share this Production” header to the right of the page preview. You can click the envelope icon beneath this heading to send your program’s public link via email. Click “Share URL” next to that envelope icon for the public URL itself, which can be distributed however you like. Though you have to be logged in to create and edit your program, the share link will be accessible to anyone who has the link without having to log in or even have a PLAYBILLder account. Your audience will be able to flip through the "pages" of your digital program on their desktop or mobile browser.
Purchasing a PDF license makes sharing your digital program even more flexible.
PLAYBILLder offers downloadable and printable PDF versions of your program through our PDF license. Once you have purchased access to that file, the ways you can share your program open up significantly. You are free to send your PDF directly to audience members, who can then view it any way they like rather than solely on PLAYBILLder.com. Since our PDF files are often used for self-printing, this also opens up the opportunity for your audience members to make their own physical copy of the program. Additionally, there are a number of services you can use to embed a PDF file directly into a website—we use FlipSnack—for a more streamlined experience.
Online programs get a special and exclusive template: videos!
Use the Video template to include videos hosted on YouTube in your program—the template fits two per page. All you have to do is copy and paste the full YouTube URL into the template. Our users have used this section to include rehearsal videos, production trailers, and even student-created original films inspired by the show. If your performance is being streamed via YouTube, you can also include the performance itself! This feature will not work if a video is marked “private,” but it will if it is public or unlisted and capable of being embedded.
Only public, published templates will be included in your digital program.
If you’re still working on a template and haven’t clicked that big blue “Make This Public” button yet, that section will not appear in your digital program. If you don’t want to use an individual PLAYBILLder template, you can skip it—you’ll still have it available to you in edit mode, but it will not appear in any way in the public facing version of your program.
If you’ve made a section public but change your mind and want to remove it, go to that template in edit mode and unclick the box next to “Yes. Make this section public” above your page preview. That section will then not appear in the online version of your program, nor will it be included in a print order or PDF, should you choose to purchase either of those. Of course, if you change your mind again, all you have to do is click that checkbox and the section will return. The only template you’re required to use is the Cover—if you don’t have your cover completed and public, your program will not be viewable online.
Building an online program does not prevent you from making print copies as mementos.
Even if you can’t hand out programs to audience members in person, cast members and other production staff might want a physical program as a souvenir of their experience. Since building online and print programs are identical processes on PLAYBILLder, you are fully able to place a print order using our professional print service or purchase a PDF license to get a printable PDF version of your program that can be used to print using a local printing service or even a home printer. We even offer custom frames that fit PLAYBILLder-created programs perfectly. The only PLAYBILLder template that will not appear in print and PDF editions of your program is Video—that is unless anyone can teach us some Harry Potter-eque magic to include moving images on the printed page!
Pro-Tip: Get the best of both worlds by purchasing a PDF license before making a print order. If you've already bought a PDF license and then want to use our printing service, we will automatically deduct the cost of the PDF license from your print order—and you'll still have access to the PDF version of your program. Doing this allows you to use our professional-grade printing services while also having the flexibility to digitally distribute your program as a PDF file.
To get started building your own custom Playbill program, visit PLAYBILLder.com.