"Friends, Romans, Countrymen lend me your... (yawn emoji) Performers, Producers, Promoters, look up from your smart phones"
Thirty years ago if I'd said print media would become obsolete in our lifetime that would have been crazy talk. Why should it be any different for live performance?
How can live performance* compete with our ability to stream GoT for free, accompanied by a bottle of vodka from Morrison's, which costs less than a pint served at the venue we're wanting people to go to. The hackneyed cliché of 'look what cinema did to vaudeville' needs an upgrade. We ain't analogue no more.
(*live performance = where your craft needs a group of people in the same space to watch you do it, eg: theatre/dance/live art/ stand up/ variety/circus/cabaret)
And yes, there is a primal need for us to share intimate space, a desire to have an intense collective experience enabling us all to feel alive. A tribal gathering.
However will it be spent watching you?
Since the Internet became omnipresent, live performance is one way the general public can escape the isolation of online life.
But don't get comfortable. Many things are growing in the arts...except the audiences. They're shrinking.
More practitioners and less patients. Not an ideal balance.
We are fundamentally changing. Our neurons are rewiring, our social patterns evolving.
That meme "I'm having people round to stare at their phones later" resonates.
Leisure time is different now. And as we change through connectivity and technology, our patients are seeking out new, alternative methods for the collective experience.
A little while ago I was talking to a friend of mine. He said we, as practitioners, need to re-market 'going out', we have to ensure that the experience for the punter is mind-blowing from the second they enter into your care, until they leave. So they will trust the product and, most importantly, come back for more.
How many of us can honestly say that we deliver that.
Every. Single. Time.
The devil is in the detail, and we as an audience can smell authenticity or hype as acutely as sharks nowadays.
So, every detail (FOH, bar, sound, lights, toilets, and ambience, all integral, and often overlooked pieces of the puzzle) of this amazing collective experience were executed to a transcendental level, were they?
And then, regardless of your chosen genre, was your performance so rich, relevant, and resonant that you blew the audience away? So much so they became immediate converts to the niche subset 'Live Performance' that jostles for shares in the overpopulated free market 'Going Out'?
Or...or perhaps there's a grain of truth in the thought that we might be resting on our increasingly obsolete laurels?
What are we doing, why are we doing it, and who is it for?
By all means do what you want if you feel compelled to. It's your right as an artist goddamn it! (foot stamp emoji)
But ask yourself this, who cares and why should they?
With few exceptions, we're on a fast track to becoming a printed broadsheet (obsolete).
We live in a time where a screen of code is becoming more sacred than the traditions live performance has stayed faithful to.
The goal, of course, is to produce (literally) mindblowing work, but the tools we've been using are due an upgrade.
Making our work accessible and relevant to todays brain is our insurance policy for having audiences to play with forever.
We're in changing times. So change. Or at the very least, examine rigorously.
Remember, the next time you step onstage, if you lose the crowd, you lose them for all of us.
Miss Behave's Gameshow is this Saturday, 9.30pm London Wonderground.
2 teams compete.
iPhones v Everyone else.
Bring-Briiiiing Your Phones!
"An evening of satirically subversive fun and games. What takes the whole thing to another level is its savvy thinking and streak of social anarchy. Wickedly Mischievous"The Times