The stage doesn’t have to be set

A new trend of entertainment is evolving… and not where you’d expect.

A recent BEAR night out started (and ended) as a bit of fun, but has since left us scratching our heads questioning the conventions we (as an audience) have become accustomed to. The landscape of the entertainment industry is changing. Changing into something more creative. And we love it!

Meeting point: Soho Square
Time: 7:00

“Ahhh you must be BEAR London. I’m Barry, this is my assistant Clive, and this is Clive’s assistant Colin, how do you do?”

Who were these chaps? They were tonight’s entertainment… firmly in character. As tonight we were on a tour of Soho. A tour like no other. A tour we wouldn’t forget for a while, not without some rather dodgy flashbacks!

After some brief introductions and a warm cup of mulled wine the tour was in full swing. We meandered through the busy streets of Soho where Barry and Clive generously shared personal anecdotes and facts about the area. “Soho!” – Henry VIII’s hunting cry for rabbits and the like!” and “Jazz will make you grow a terrible beard”. It was fair to say that some facts were more credible than others, but what didn’t vary was the quality of their delivery, which made for pure comedy gold. Also mixed into the performance was sharp, clever improv, which suggested no two shows were the same. What was great about the evening was that there was no barrier between the audience and the actors. The actors would learn your name and weave you into the show, keeping even the most laid-back punter on their toes. This fusion between information, performance, improv and comedy, created one of the most hilarious evenings we’ve had for a long time. They were true masters of their craft!

group of colleagues outside pub at night

Traditionally we’re accustomed to live entertainment appearing on a stage. Here there was no stage, the show was entirely performed on the street (and technically the pub at the end). Not only are the actors out of their comfort zone, the audience were too. This blends into an entirely new experience. And if the content and performance levels are high, why does the venue have to be made of wood and set in front of a seated audience? Why can’t the venue be adaptable? Why can’t it work in even the most basic of locations, like a street corner? This new trend of immersive theatre is on the rise, and is creatively breaking down the barriers (or the fourth wall) between performers and audience.

Immersive entertainment is an interesting concept and is appearing more and more. Secret Cinema is currently setting the benchmark in this field. When we went, we were impressed with the huge production values but also the attention to detail. In the hours leading up to the film, the venue was scattered with actors performing their own cameo performances. All setting the scene for the main event. The benchmark of any good show is its ability for the audience to forget who they are for a night.

Creativity and entertainment have always been closely linked, but have they ever complemented each other as well as they do today? Barriers between the audience and the show are becoming blurred and conventions are being challenged. What can the design industry learn from this new trend? Let’s apply the same logic to branding and design communication: what is our stage?… A logo? An A4 advert? A website? Surely there is another way to communicate with our clients and their audience. Should we be taking our design out of the current conventions?… Why not? It could take us somewhere incredible. At the worst, it will take us somewhere memorable.

Immersive theatre in Soho