1. Check all the technology all together well in advance. Even if every individual piece is functioning sometimes technology can get funny. Like our sound card needs to be turned on before the being connected to the computer. Also, it preferred one of my USB ports to the other. Bluetooth headphones work great individually but when they are close together they like to pair to each other. You have to do them all at separate times or in separate rooms.
2. Lead piping is the death of bluetooth. If you use bluetooth headphones then watch out. If things or people get in the way of them they disconnect, so put your transmitters on the ceiling. If your ceiling has lead piping, the headphones really hate it. Radio signal is better if you want to send the same thing to everyone (which we don’t sadly, but it is a lot easier). However, radio is also pernickety about things blocking the transmitter and can pick up radio interference if you’re using the same frequency as the local radio station. And Kiss FM can be guaranteed to be playing the least appropriate song possible for your show…
3. Audience members in groups are less engaged than audience members in pairs or by themselves. Our show Blood Will Have Blood involves the audience doing a number of tasks while listening to the story in their headphones. This worked fantastically on the first show we did, when there were only two people. They listened and did things and neither acted like they were self-conscious. All the other shows were full, and everyone watched each other awkwardly. The group then divided into leaders and followers. No one wanted to be singled out so they mostly hung back or just pretended to do things. What we want to do for the run in Camden and Edinburgh is start each audience member facing the wall and encourage most of the show to be done this way, with larger tasks done with the person next to you. The show is about your journey and your choices, not about performing for a group.
4. Little Old Ladies in Brighton are the Best. They were in general the most engaged and enthusiastic audience members. We thought we had a different target audience, we were wrong. The old ladies in Brighton were my favourite part of this show so far and loads of them turned up and boy do they know how to get blood stains out of shrouds. I kept wishing we had chairs for them so they didn’t have to sit on the floor.
5. Dream Big. Start Small. Technology is a work or it doesn’t work type of thing. It makes you miss actors with their ability to fudge everything together in the preview and work out the kinks by opening night. If you have shed loads of money and time, then you will be fine. If you have neither, I would recommend starting your R&D by creating the simplest possible version first and then adding complexity. We tried to go from start of the play to the end of the play with all the complexity in right away. This was because the complexity was integral to the whole concept. In Blood Will Have Blood, each audience member has a separate audio-feed. Though everyone’s story starts at the same point, the show reacts to each person’s choices, tailoring the tale to them as they go. However, we ended up making a simpler version for Brighton, with 12 different endings with only a little variation en route. If we had developed it simple to complex rather than beginning to end, we would have used our time more efficiently.
6. Amazon estimated deliver time, NOT reliable. Get off your laptop and go to the shops already!
7. I or you? In the research and development stage we spent a lot of time trying to work out if the show should be narrated as “I” or “you”. Should the character in your ears say “I look around” or “You look around”? We originally thought it should be the first one but the feedback was mostly that the second one was clearer. However, people who had done led meditation felt like they were in a really strange version of that. Which is a way of looking at this show I hadn’t thought about.
Reviews from the shows are here:
Next Blog post will be about our New Immersive Writing workshops this weekend!