I have a confession…..I really like ice skating. I have loved watching it for years and am happily past the phase where I want to be one. I did try a few times when I was a kid at Plymouth Pavilions but the boots really hurt my feet. I know, a first world problem!
Anyway, I took my mum to the theatre last week to see Robin Cousins’ ICE and even up until the interval I was still trying to maintain the facade that I’m not that fussed. However, I really am that fussed and I am particularly fussed about it when it’s not quite right.
Maybe it’s the dance background or the hours of watching Dancing on Ice in the confines of my own home but the show didn’t quite work. Don’t get me wrong, the skaters are fantastic and what they achieve in the tiny stage space is phenomenal but the choreography and design and music went through strange phases of really not working. There was a discord between the styles and genres used which sometimes works brilliantly but attempting street dance in a floaty dress is never really going to work.
I wonder if the rest of the audience felt as artistically confused as I was? There were some brilliant moments but it was just missing some kind of consistency, some kind of creative through-line. It made me think about some of the event projects and programmes that I have designed in the past and made me realise how important the consistency of the overarching strategy is.
When we design a programme it is vital to take into account the needs and wants of the client of course but also the needs and wants of the audience. Programming takes careful consideration and requires a deep understanding of the experience that we are creating parallel to the experience desired by the audience. I am not suggesting that we only ever provide what the audience already know they want. That would be like just programming tribute acts or high profile children’s shows and excluding the wonderful potential of theatre, dance, circus and music events. We need to create a mix with some comfortable easy sell aspects as well as those that are going to provide a challenge and extend the experience of our audiences. Who knows they might just like it?
So whilst I am all for juxtaposing artforms and genres to create a new perspective and new experiences, I recognise the need for balance. I need to not be confused. I need to be confident in the experience to relax and experience it rather than trying to figure out what on earth is going on! I need some artistic integrity. And I don’t think I’m that different to most of us.
If you really want to be challenged (but in an entirely consistent and integrated way) try Punch Drunk. They are simply incredible at creating amazing experiences that are both comfortable and challenging.