Two weeks ago I got an urgent call from a business consultant who was facilitating a big corporate seminar and workshop. She had been let down by a theatre company at the last minute and needed some industrial theatre as an intervention during the seminar. In under a week. Because of improv philosophy I said ‘yes’ first, of course I could help, and then I panicked about the how of it. Fortunately, because she has a theatre background she understood what I was talking about when I explained that a week was too short a time to write, cast, rehearse and produce a 20 minute play, and that I thought it would be a good idea to throw around a few concepts and get improvisers to play with the ideas; an improvised corporate theatre intervention.
She loved it and we spoke about meeting the next day to play with the ideas, messaging and goal of the piece. “Where are you?” she asked. At that moment we realised that she was in Joburg and I was in Cape Town. My heart sank and I started thinking about who I could recommend, but she threw a solution at the problem and suggested that if I knew improvisers in Joburg and could cast them remotely, I could come up and the job would be mine. I did, I went, was supported by brilliant Joburg improvisers, and it was a great success.
And it got me thinking. One of the big problems facing us as industrial theatre makers right now is that businesses don’t have the budget, even though there is the earnest desire. It is challenging to be asked to quote for a piece of industrial theatre when you know the client will be shocked by the cost. Clients expect to pay a couple of thousand R for theatre that in reality costs almost a hundred thousand R to make. I am asked a few times a month to quote and there is almost never any comeback.
So, how about a new product? A theatrical intervention that is explained up front as improvised? This is different from forum theatre, or role play, in that it is purely theatrical, but it is also potentially funny, a great breakaway, meaningful, and also tailor made to the situation. It is improvisation, but for a target group or audience. There is the element of risk, and even ‘failure’, but that is part of improvisation, and part of business. I think there is so much value in an audience being part of that experience. And the dual message is powerful too.
Any takers? Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me what you need.