United against stage fright
“It started with a kiss,” that’s how the song goes. At least that one sung by Hot Chocolate. Had it been Eva’s song, it would have gone something like this: “It started with a theatre play in Klagenfurt.” She was 12, saw the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” and developed a crush for the main actor, whose name shall not be revealed, for it is a teen secret. Suffice it to say that this experience ignited her enthusiasm for theatre and today it burns in the shape of Theatania. That’s a Viennese online portal that provides links, news and reviews for people who are interested in theatre. Theatania offers an overview of the performance dates for over 600 plays and additional information about the 35 Viennese venues they are played at, as well as 500 theatre reviews published in the local press and 100 blog entries written by the collaborators of the portal.
Eva Maria Krappinger (32) is the initiator of the project, editor-in-chief of the portal and sole proprietor of the company. With an initial investment of 13.000 euros and the help of the software engineer and web designer David Bongard (35), Theatania saw the light of day on 1 February 2012 precisely and has been growing ever since. One year after, the portal counts 18.000 page views and over 5000 visitors per month. Contributors to the portal are students and bloggers, most of them with a background in journalism and dramatics.
The Theatania team. Credit: Theatania
Editorial conferences as workshops in disguise
“There must be something about this idea that makes people want to be a part of it,” says Eva with regard to her team of around 10 volunteer contributors. But there might also be her expertise which attracts young people towards Theatania. At the University of Vienna, Eva took courses in Journalism, French Studies, Jewish Studies and Theatre, Film and Media Studies. She then worked as a drama teacher for children and young people, an assistant producer, an information officer, a content manager, an online journalist and a copywriter. And with an attitude that makes you wish she were your best friend, Eva sure knows how to keep her collaborators interested. They get free press cards for the performances they intend to write about and are published online on a very visible platform.
But Eva’s turning the editorial conferences into workshops for creative writing seems more attractive than the other trivial benefits. And she makes sure that her feedback doesn’t dampen people’s enthusiasm when it comes to writing. “The portal is supposed to be an open space for experiments,” Eva says. “I welcome new ways of writing theatre reviews and I always encourage brainstorming on what we should improve,” she adds.
Turning passion into a profitable business
Theatre aficionada Eva has seen over 2000 plays. Credit: privateImprovement seems to be the buzzword around Theatania. “After one year of online existence we are slowly beginning to understand what this portal is about and how we should define it,” explains Eva. Up until now she has been initiating online partnerships with other theatre friendly sites and collecting information about the visitors to her portal. Now she is about to evaluate these collaborations and only keep the prolific ones going. As to the users’ profiles, they are 70% female. 34% are between 26 and 45 years old and 24% are between 20 and 25 years old. 76% of all Theatania users have graduated from school or hold a university degree. Their average income ranges between 1300 and 2500 euros. “In terms of online marketing, our partners can use the portal for banner ads, social media activities and even product sampling”, explains Eva. When Theatania celebrated its first year of existence in February 2013, Eva made a wish. Should it come true, she might soon bump into a sales expert with a passion for theatre.
Until then, she is trying to cover this area herself, while also focusing on the main mission of her project. And that is, to help people overcome their personal, social and cultural insecurities, get informed and find their way to the theatre. Part of her project are the “go togetheas”. Peer groups of students, singles, senior citizens or single moms meet up to see a play and have a chance to share impressions about it afterwards. Eva herself often joins these activities and visitors to her platform can get to know her in person. Connecting the virtual world of theatre with the real world of people through a virtual platform “hopefully pays off”, Eva says. Well, let’s sing along.