To suit the Action to the Word, the Word to the Action

Theatrical Séance, anyone?

Well, some things (such as blogging, sleeping, eating et al) have had to take a backseat recently, due to a challenging, stressful and fascinating project.

I was hired to deliver a Victorian Séance, using 6 actors, for a group of almost 40 visitors whose mother-tongue is not English, in a venue to which I had no pre-performance access and over which I had no control, with about a week in which to prepare.

With something like a séance, where spirits are to be channelled and objects are to move ‘supernaturally’ in the dark, a longer preparation time really is needed, without multiple changes to conditions just before performance and – surprise, surprise – the rooms have to be … dark!

You can perhaps see where the stresses occurred.

Actually, a lot of fun was had, great research was enjoyed, and the stressful parts can be used for learning and post-strain laughter. Corporate events are often somewhat last minute nowadays, and the needs / wishes of the guests are paramount, rather than the ideal circumstances wished for by the entertainment.

One of the things I have learned, over a few years now, is to not focus on myself, but on those who are to be entertained. At the end of the day, whatever expectations I might have of myself – whatever ideas about what the best performance would be like – the audience do not have the same knowledge of me / my ability / rehearsal / research / production. If they enjoy what they have paid for, my job is done.

There are layers to the quality of how this job has been done, many of which will affect my own personal satisfaction, but that the audience is entertained is the purpose of entertainment. This may be via comedy, tragedy, easy-viewing or hard-hitting fare – so long as it satisfies the customer, some success has been achieved. What else is needed to keep me going is another matter.

For me, in this job I gained strain and doubts, but also challenges (to which I am always determined to rise, and very much enjoy doing so), new knowledge, new experiences, new contacts, a great séance team working very well together, and confidence that I can cope with such work. Oh, and money.

The latter is not to be sneezed at. But the day I only gain money is the day I stop such work.

How about you?


Comments on: "Theatrical Séance, anyone?" (2)

  1. One of the best things about this experience I found was how well people picked up and learnt new skills in a extremely short time which many people spend years working on – or a couple of months at the least.

    It required people to become actor, magician, backstage crew and techie all in the same role at the same time- no simple challenge, but one which everyone rose to.

    It is a shame we couldn’t have had a few more weeks practice and that we couldn’t quite get the conditions which would have made it perfect- but the audience did seem to enjoy themselves and as you say, that is our job.

    A big congratulations to all involved in pulling off something quite unique.


    • Absolutely – the team was amazing! The actors – as you say, performing so many other roles too (scriptwriter & comedy improvisor also) – put in a huge amount of work. Definitely shows what can be achieved by the commitment of the right people. Thanks for being such a one!

      In fact, for other readers, Ash was co-producer for this event, providing training along with everything else mentioned.


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