Sunday, August 12, 2012

YUMMY- #6 - Making a Production Out Of It


Ok so the secret of what's coming next doesn't seem to be a secret anymore. At least a half dozen  people have whispered of the desire and intentions to put on a "production" in the coming months, most targeting this fall.

So just what is a "production"?

When pinned down, it seems we all have the same idea. I had someone enunciate it to me their definition just so I wasn't out of touch with reality.


Ok so bigger is implying, more performers/dancers/actors possibly over a larger timespan. At least an hour...maybe longer... and most definitely playing several/mulitple runs over time.

Expect to see larger and more lavish sets. This years festival seems to have raised the bar for what is a "good" set with some intentional or unitentional one-upsmanship.  Having sets next to each other seemed to imply competition as it is unavoidable ot to compare, even though that was never the intention


It seems 1 hour is still the target but as time marches on and the "outdo-ness prevails" don't be surprised to see 2 hr shows. That's how long we can sit before building up enough urine (16 to 24 ounces and a  10 ml/min if you drink during a movie lets say) that we have to go relieve ourselves. I heard thats how they came up with the time of the 1st movie "intermission".


The biggest and most noticeable difference will be an overall "theme" that ties the acts together.

The other will be the concept of "story" which means one or more performers will be seen as characters with a will to be motivated to do or try to do something. There is a direction or purpose to this 'production' within a theme that is supplanted by music, costume, sets, text, dance, all working in concert.


So expect to see these 'productions' with hard-defined segments termed "acts". An act seems to define a marked change in time and locale (sometimes just one). Same time, different locale or same locale, different time.

So expect to see a set-change, costume change, new music, a different set of performers, and a pause not unlike a period used to end a sentence or blank line to delineate a paragraph.


 Also expect to see the additon of 'text' in some form to help move the story along, insure everyone is on the same page as to how to interpret what is going on, and fill in any needed blanks that are not being answered by what is being seen (and possibly heard).  This may be in the form of an intellibook or text presented on a big board, static or dynamic. Expect to see openchat text take a back seat to other forms of more easily identifiable text presentations like a one-source delivery system such that the audience can follow just one IM box that identifies the speaker at the beginning of the chat-line. Productions will honor the mantra of "...doesn't follow local chat..", respecting it and finding ways to keep the open chat free for audience exclamations and provide a more integral form of delivering story-text that doesnt detract from the performance. Text might be used creatively to denote time and or locale when deemed helpful.


Expect to see the additon of voiceo  accomplish the same task as text, used in place of or in addition to forms of text as noted above. This may be live or pre-recorded and mixed in with the music. It will be used to deliver character lines, a form of narration, or as an MC, to name just a few.



Expect to see more us (for better or worse) of more special dazzling particle effects since they seemed to bedazzle us and win our favor (yes, to the consternation of some butt still..). They will now be used more to help tell the story and become an integral part as opposed to effects for effects-sake.



Expect "programs"  to help jumpstart the story providing background as well as aiding in bridging the gap between acts,  forming a glue, summarizing whats been while setting the scene for whats coming.


Expect to see dance more closely matched to theme and used to help underscore the point of an "act". It will be more lyrical and stylized. We may have to accept a more broadened defintion of "dance" to include "out-of-the-ordinary" human body movement that conveys meaning or feeling with or without music, with special emphasis on "without music". It could just to melody or just to rhythm or even just to silence.

We will probably see more couples dancing as a metaphor to express interpersonal adoration, turmoil, conflict, and resolve to name a few. I suspect that the strip-tease, now prevalent in the occasional show-dance will find it challenging to stake a claim in this new "musical production" format. And it appears that those productions that don't take themselves as sersious as others will find broader audicence appeal.



Expect to see the songs tied more closely to a theme and more recognizable in terms of lyric and/or melody. The challenge will be in finding songs that are both popular, as in recognizable, and significant, as in relates lyrically to the scene. It has usually been only one or the other. Songs that will work best are those that are significant, with catchy hooks.


While I had forseen last year, when I 1st learned of this cabaret/burlesque form entetainment, that it would become more of a production, I didnt foresee the "size" as in... becoming so large.  Personally I have found, and have had my suspicions collaborated by a fellow peer, that with immense size comes immense responsibilites....that being of matching the extravagence with audience experience.

 Extreme stage width and depth can work against an audience member who tries to take in the whole, meaning seeing all the avatars on stage at once,  that the most distant avatars can seem to do the jiggy-super-fast-cartoon dance.  And zooming back to get everyone into the picture often makes the performers seem smaller than might be desired as well as less significant, not to mention a loss of synchronization.

When I see extra deep stage or extra wide clubs I look for a reason. Is the extra wall-space used for art? Is this new and ever-popular gap between seats used for dancing after the show? ..or maybe as room for the performers to interact with the audience? Or maybe you have discovered that separation by space seems to reduce lag. Well....then those seem to be decent reasons. But if the extra space is NOT used or qualified, then it taxes the audience needlessly by making the performers smaller than need be and causes extra camming which seems to so often cause a loss of sync. And many people fear the bane of crashing to due camming when in moderately crowded and laggy venues, myself included at times.

What would be ideal?

Well in my mind the more square the seating, the more optimal. The closer the length of seats to the depth of seats the better. So if you have 36 seats then a 6 rows by 6 columns seating arrangement would seem optimal. And minimize the space between the front row and the stage. If you have a runway, be sure to use it or remove it during acts when it won't be in play  as it needlessly distances the audience further from the stage than they need to be.

I know that it seems intuitive to marry the solo act to the wonderous set but the purpose of the set is to establish a time and place, a setting to deliver from. After we have seen taken it in, then the focuse should be on the performer(s). In the case of a solo act we will zoom in closer to aquire more screen movement and will lose much of the set detail. So if the dancer moves closer to the audience, especially when a runway is in play, then the audience gets more of the dancer AND set due to the relationship between them. Of course if you want to find a nice mix of front and back stage usage. And please note I am speaking from my experience as an audience member.  You could argue you are not there for the audience but for yourself and the other performers and enjoy being immersed deep into the set. I have no argument there as that is just as valid since the performances are free.

I will add that the proof of the importance of "larger avatar in proportion to visible area" is reaffirmed by the fact that when people record and display videos of performances...they always edit such that they rely heavily on the closer-up framings. I've yet to see a video shot and edited all wide angle.

And a final thought:...

Does the mere fact of working hard and long on a project shield it from criticism? Is working hard and long on a project. indicator of success? Is it possible to work hard and long and produce something bad.? or 'not as good as'?  Does working 'long' on something also imply working 'hard'? If everyone works 'hard', does it negate the value of 'hard'?  

My co-worker and I had a sarcastic bent about the societal rat-race. "It's not enough just for me to succeed. I also need others to fail".

Would you feel better taking a class and being the only person to get an A, knowing everyone did their  best? Or would you feel better if everyone got an A, also knowing everyone did their best? Are you saying the final test or course could have been too easy? Then are you agreeing that you/we need others to fail (well thats extreme but ..'not do as well as'...'perform inferior to')?

We do fairly judge those who've been doing it 'longer', different than we do the newcomers. We expect more from them. That seems just.  And unlike school where its A,B,C,D, or F, I think we tend to give a simple thumbs up or thumbs down to an artistic performance. And we WANT to like what we see and hear. And unlike in sports, we don't need to have a winner and a loser. 

And that's Yummy's taste of things.