First to talk was Simon from Lincoln Drill Hall, he mentioned that their mission statement is to make ‘special moments’, that ‘art makes lives better’ and that they offer a ‘bucketful’ of experiences. The main importance is the accessibility of space, he gave an example of performances that are expensive but the reputation and accessibility of the show sold itself. These challenging performances that push boundaries have become incredibly popular, and this questions what we know about popular performance. Popularity is about ‘getting people through the door’ and The Drill Hall is already a Lincoln landmark so a lot of people don’t really see it as a traditional theatre venue like The Lincoln Theatre Royal. They even hold election night there and Simon even sees it as a ‘performance space’. He mentioned that there are three programmes available when it comes to performance: Challenging, Core and Popular Culture. Popular Culture is not about low production costs and values but it is about performance accessibility and its relevance. Simon asks questions about the audiences, ‘why would people be tempted to attend?’ and ‘what kind of experience do people have?’ However, he also mentions that the three programmes that are listed above are actually becoming fluid this also challenges about what can also be popular. It also pushes the boundaries of what the building is capable of and it is also a very versatile space. It is their responsibility to make high quality work popular and it seems that there is a complex relationship between the commercial and the popular.
Richard and Laura spoke on behalf of Chapterhouse . They mentioned that they don’t get funding so performances have to make money therefore, they can’t do experimental work. The company performs in venues that want and need to bring people in e.g. stately homes, gardens, National Trust, Heritage sites, so it has to sell. The performance will usually be one of the busiest days the venue will have. After being asked what he thought of popular performance, Richard sees it as a ‘responsibility for himself and for the venue’. He mentioned that Shakespeare is a harder sell than it used to be so now the company have moved towards staging classics like Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. This creates a nostalgia where they use things that people recognise but it is always vital to have an innovative take on the text. With Laura writing the company she wants to create nostalgia, with modern interpretations, creating existing plays within a nostalgic format that the audience recognise, but it is innovative within that format. She also has a feminist agenda, Chapterhouse has become Event theatre, an entire entertainment package and she notices that the majority of people who go to these performances are women, so they need to give the audience what they want.
The LPAC has the problem of being a presenting venue when it comes to discussing what is popular, so is it about how we present the work we offer? They have less control over the productions that are put on so balancing the programme is always tasking as it is how the LPAC is perceived and received. We need to start to think about different forms of popular for different audiences, as there are so many different popular avenues of performance.
The talk was incredibly insightful to understand that popular performance is so hard to define, it shifts and changes like the indecisive Lincolnshire weather. This is what we need to be careful of when marketing our piece, we need to understand the audience in order to market the audience.
Byrnes, W.J. (2009) Management and the Arts. 4th Ed. Focal Press: USA.
The Drill Hall (2011) [image] http://www.lincolndrillhall.com/events/lincoln-drill-hall-s-third-annual-bangers-mash-ball [Accessed: 16/05/2014].
T, Howes (2013) Chapterhouse at Chatsworth. [image] http://tamaraausten77.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/pride-prejudice-at-chatsworth-house-my.html [Accessed 16/05/2014].