create balance

 so are we really focussed on meeting anticipation...

There’s a powerful emotion that kicks in as you approach that specially chosen restaurant or that unique exhibition or that long awaited movie release or even that notorious theme park ride.

It’s called anticipation; simply defined as the emotion that delivers pleasure in awaiting an expected event. 

Harnessing this emotion in theatre, we must firstly accept that the act of the curtain rising is not the start of the performance… the full experience starts a lot earlier.

Yes, it may begin with a poster, a review, a conversation or recommendation and certainly when you commit to that ticket it then builds to the moment you enter the venue.

Each one of these stages successfully build your anticipatory emotions.

So, let’s focus on one of the most rewarding of human emotions… the art of meeting anticipation.

Meeting anticipation goes beyond delivering or even exceeding expectations. It is a skill that needs thought, focus… and balance.

Our recent newsletter addressed the whole notion of ‘Immersive', exploring many of the current interpretations, from Van Gogh, to Hockney to Guys and Dolls. (Click here)

Understandably, the growth of 'Immersive' became the story of the moment and we hear was the subject of much conversation at the Tony Awards last month.

But maybe we need to pause, consider and learn from the whole notion of ‘Immersive' in terms of its true emotional effect on an audience.

And here, the dictionary helps us yet again… an immersive experience is the perception of being surrounded by or being part of, a different environment than our normal day to day life.

And that needn’t mean making audiences walk around the performance, rather than be seated, or project ever-changing landscapes across the entire auditorium, or even place a giant Parisian windmill in the Royal box (though all of these are very effective)… what it does mean, is thinking through the audience’s emotion beyond simply delivering a stage performance to delivering an overall experience… a memorable experience.

This has been loyally delivered by the most hospitably managed venues for quite a while. A clear understanding and recognition that it’s all about over-delivering audience expectations.

But when you consistently manage, deliver and even exceed expectations… what’s the next level?

You simply address the task of ‘how’ you can better manage the entire audience journey - every single moment of it!

One of the most critical of these is that point of arrival - first impressions count! Closely followed by the entire pre-show experience, every moment designed to welcome, relax and refresh before the curtain rises… then, following a memorable production on stage, to leave with a sense of warmth on departure.

We always add this note about departure, as increasingly many events or out-door theatres, leave their audience at the end of the performance, to exit alone. Losing that final moment of emotional punctuation, a simple delivery of thanks for coming and looking forward to seeing you again soon, is commercially careless.

Steve Wynn of Vegas fame asked one thing of his entire hotel staff … 'give our audience whatever it needs to make their experience so memorable, that they immediately make plans to return'.

If it works emotionally… it will work commercially. Build it and they will come.

What’s initially required is a consistent approach and a balanced understanding of the true value of the experience, by all those responsible for its delivery… and this is a serious quest and needs attention.

Making your audience welcome and successfully fulfilling all their anticipatory emotions, is as important a skill to learn and deliver, as the training of those waiting to perform behind the curtain. Indeed if the team on the house side of the curtain use their skills well, the conditions are perfect to enable whatever follows on stage, to be seen at its best. 

Certain theatres deliver this stunningly well, supporting their Front of House teams in recognising the critical aspects of delivering a memorable experience. By identifying the touchpoints that continue to build anticipation, they can increase the emotions that deliver pleasure in awaiting whatever comes next.

Certain producers are now starting to identify the immeasurable support this can deliver to their production, in building its reputation, enjoyment and value.

If it works emotionally… it will work commercially. Build it and they will come.

And this is where we can help; we listen, we share our insights and we help create the balance you need to succeed in this quest to identify, prioritise and build-upon those moments of anticipation.

Creating balance helps you discover what matters most, stay focused under pressure, use your strengths to be at your best… and it’s the same quest for managing audiences throughout this sector… It’s all about balance.

P.S: When the anticipated event fails to deliver the expected emotions, it results in disappointment… measurable disappointment.  And here’s the sobering bit… this disappointment can carelessly emerge, even before the curtain goes up!

Expectations begin with a poster, a review, or certainly a ticket, but they truly awake when you enter the theatre … so, are we fully focused on meeting anticipation?

more balanced thinking