On Saturday I watched, or rather, took part in a new play called Stovepipe, written by Adam Bruce and staged in a cavernous space, deep in the bowels of the West 12 shopping centre in Shepherds Bush. Originally intended as straight theatre, the author claimed that at first he was “borderline fucked off'” with the decision to make it a promenade piece.
He changed his mind and loves it, as did the audience and a certain Tom Stoppard, “One of the best promenade dramas I’ve seen, truly effective and illuminating”.
Set in post-war Middle East, we the audience follow the actors, inhabiting their locations, as the narrative unfolds. We are delegates at a sales conference, a thronging street crowd, perched on bar stools in a brothel, ducking bullets in the desert and mourners in a chapel.
Rather than being passive observers, we were taking part. And we enjoyed it, all 90 plus non-sitting down minutes of it! The dynamic audience interaction lifted the play, capturing our senses and our imagination. Altogether, an original, stimulating and memorable experience.
Do the lessons here for pitching need spelling out? (If so, Best Practice Guide, Staging and Content is worth a look.)