Probably the most interesting session for me was the first session about the audience. It certainly presented a different way of thinking. The main speakers were Alastair Spalding from Sadlers Wells and Helen Marriage from Artichoke, who produced the Sultan’s Elephant outdoor spectacle as well as The ‘Spider’ in Liverpool in 2008.
Alastair was interesting in that he started by talking about the iPhone, saying that no one could really imagine 10 years ago that there would be a phone like that.
Alastair focussed on William Forsythe, choreographer. He showed two clips of work taken 25 years apart. He spoke about taking radical steps, which is key, and challenging perceptions of contemporary performance.
Keeping audience actively informed is a challenge, but a must for his theatre. There were also some interesting thoughts about audience:
- Audiences generally have no complaints about complexity.
- They are still drawn to narrative – no matter how complex.
- But they are also happy when there’s no narrative.
- They also respond to intellectual versuosity – exploring the nature of performance.
As audience become increasingly multi-national they are drawn to work that reflects diversity.
He did mention reviews – and how to respond to negative ones – put on more of the same work. He presented a ‘Forsythe Season’, and the audience became more informed, and the work became more validated.
Helen spoke about her work – large scale outdoor pieces. As a producer she knows that lives can be better from seeing art, and it’s her job to imagine the impossible and make it happen.
The greatest communication tools for Helen were secrecy, timing and surprise. This was interesting for me - and if you have the support of a venue like Sadlers Wells that will put on your work every year then great. But what of those artists struggling to find such a venue and / or producers?
The session certainly raised questions for me. I’ve now made eight films. What do people expect from me next? Do my 800 + twitter followers really care about what I do next?
How many of them would buy a DVD of my films if I released one? (800 x £15.99 = £12,792). That’s quite a lot.
So again, it goes back to the audience. For me as a filmmaker, that’s simple and something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, and as an artist, it actually hasn’t changed my thinking. I think essentially we simply want people to turn up and see the work.
Though for my next steps, it may be more to do with my writing than anything I’m currently doing at the moment. But with the element of surprise in mind, that’s all I’m saying at the moment.